Accredited Dental Assistant Training | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Fort Washington PA 19034

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Fort Washington 19034

dental assistant training in Fort Washington PAChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Fort Washington PA is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first 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 time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to 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 provided.

The Duties of Dental Assistants

Fort Washington dental assistant helping dentist 19034Dental assistants are an essential part of any Fort Washington dental practice and can perform a wide range of tasks. Their primary job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Pennsylvania dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, such as:

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

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Fort Washington dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen comparing the role of a Fort Washington dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

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

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

Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at Pennsylvania junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Fort Washington area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Fort Washington homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Fort Washington home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental online school is the ideal choice for you.

What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 19034After you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Fort Washington area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Pennsylvania programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good 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 prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fort Washington area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the school you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many Fort Washington area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has a good 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 just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many Fort Washington area dental schools have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Fort Washington dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Ask the Pennsylvania programs you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 19034 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Fort Washington in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Select the Ideal Dental Program near Fort Washington PA

Choosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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