Accredited Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Natural Bridge VA 24578

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Natural Bridge 24578

dental assistant training in Natural Bridge VAPicking the right dental hygienist school near Natural Bridge VA is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Duties of Dental Assistants

Natural Bridge dental assistant helping dentist 24578Dental assistants are an integral part of any Natural Bridge dental office and can undertake a variety of duties. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Virginia dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, such as:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Virginia dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of Dental Hygienists

Natural Bridge dental hygienist treating patient in VirginiaWhen comparing the role of a Natural Bridge dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously 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 an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
  • 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant courses are available at Virginia community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which generally 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. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Natural Bridge area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Natural Bridge homeEnrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a good option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes 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 Natural Bridge home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental college is the right choice for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools

Questions to ask Virginia dental colleges 24578When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Natural Bridge area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Virginia programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Natural Bridge area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Natural Bridge area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school 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 Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most Natural Bridge area dental colleges have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you choose provides 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, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Natural Bridge 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 are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges require help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Virginia colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask 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 level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 24578 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Natural Bridge at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Dental College near Natural Bridge VA

Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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