How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Flinton 16640
Choosing the ideal dental assistant program near Flinton PA is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Flinton dental office and can undertake a variety of functions. Their principal job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Pennsylvania dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Flinton dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Pennsylvania community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete 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 hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Flinton area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Flinton home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental online school is the right choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the process of comparing Flinton area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Pennsylvania schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Flinton area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many Flinton area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation and 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many Flinton area dental schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Flinton dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at 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 broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Pennsylvania schools you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 16640 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Flinton at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Dental School near Flinton PAChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.