Find Dental Hygienist Programs | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Fieldale VA 24089

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Fieldale 24089

dental assistant training in Fieldale VAPicking the ideal dental hygienist program near Fieldale VA is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Job of a Dental Assistant

Fieldale dental assistant helping dentist 24089Dental assistants are an integral part of any Fieldale dental office and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Virginia dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However most assistants carry out any job that they are asked to complete, such as:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Virginia dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most 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) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Fieldale dental hygienist treating patient in VirginiaWhen comparing the job of a Fieldale dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Virginia practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

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

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant courses are provided at Virginia community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three 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 interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Fieldale area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Fieldale homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Fieldale home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the right choice for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges

Questions to ask Virginia dental colleges 24089After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Fieldale area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Virginia schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fieldale area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, most Fieldale area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of Fieldale area dental colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Fieldale dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools need help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the Virginia colleges you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 24089 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Fieldale at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Pick the Right Dental College near Fieldale VA

Choosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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