Top Dental Assistant Colleges | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Medina WA 98039

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Medina 98039

dental assistant training in Medina WASelecting the right dental assistant college near Medina WA is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish 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 finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Role of Dental Assistants

Medina dental assistant helping dentist 98039Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Medina dental office and can perform a variety of duties. Their fundamental job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Washington dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:

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

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Washington dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Medina dental hygienist treating patient in WashingtonWhen contrasting the duties of a Medina dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Washington practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

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

To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 licensing examinations. Once 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 courses are provided at Washington junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Medina area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Colleges

attending dental assistant school online in Medina homeEnrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Medina home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the ideal option for you.

Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask Washington dental colleges 98039Once you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Medina area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Washington programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Medina area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, most Medina area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many Medina area dental schools have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical 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 ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Medina 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 Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require help getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Washington colleges you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 98039 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Medina at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find the Right Dental College near Medina WA

Choosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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