Find Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Elizabethtown PA 17022

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Elizabethtown 17022

dental assistant training in Elizabethtown PAPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Elizabethtown PA is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

Elizabethtown dental assistant helping dentist 17022Dental assistants are an integral part of any Elizabethtown dental practice and can perform a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Pennsylvania dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However most assistants carry out any job that they are asked to complete, such as:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing office and dental supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Elizabethtown dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen contrasting the role of a Elizabethtown dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant courses are provided at Pennsylvania junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Elizabethtown area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Elizabethtown homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Elizabethtown home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental college is the ideal choice for you.

Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 17022When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you want to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Elizabethtown area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Pennsylvania programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Elizabethtown area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.

Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Elizabethtown area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Elizabethtown area dental programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Elizabethtown dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the Pennsylvania programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 17022 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Elizabethtown in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Best Dental Program near Elizabethtown PA

Choosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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