How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Kilmarnock 22482
Choosing the right dental assistant program near Kilmarnock VA is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Kilmarnock dental practice and can carry out a variety of duties. Their primary job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Virginia dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. However most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying 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
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Virginia dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with 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) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Kilmarnock dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Virginia practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Virginia junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive 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 working in dental offices are normally required to hold 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Kilmarnock area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Kilmarnock home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Kilmarnock area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Virginia programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. 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 program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Kilmarnock area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently 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 make certain that the college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Kilmarnock area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school 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 strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely 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 a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many Kilmarnock area dental programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Kilmarnock dental practice. They make it easier for 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 Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher 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 internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Virginia schools you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 22482 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Kilmarnock in the evenings 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 have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Dental Program near Kilmarnock VAPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.