Top Dental Assistant Training | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Keswick VA 22947

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Keswick 22947

dental assistant training in Keswick VASelecting the ideal dental assistant program near Keswick VA is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving 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 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Role of a Dental Assistant

Keswick dental assistant helping dentist 22947Dental assistants are an integral component of any Keswick dental practice and can perform a myriad of duties. Their main job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Virginia dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, including:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Giving 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 deviate by state, so consult with the Virginia dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Keswick dental hygienist treating patient in VirginiaWhen contrasting the duties of a Keswick dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Virginia practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

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

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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant courses are available at Virginia junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally 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 almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Keswick area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Keswick homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Keswick home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online college is the best option for you.

What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools

Questions to ask Virginia dental colleges 22947After you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Keswick area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Virginia programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Keswick area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Keswick area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong 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 ideal school for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many Keswick area dental colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in 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 are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Keswick 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 also.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering 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 profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Virginia colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 22947 area.

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

Select the Ideal Dental College near Keswick VA

Picking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available 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 programs normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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