How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Sterling 20163
Choosing the right dental assistant program near Sterling VA is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors 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 be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Sterling dental office and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Virginia dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling 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
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Virginia dental board for your state’s regulations. 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) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Sterling dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of 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 typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. 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 Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Virginia junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Sterling area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Sterling home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Sterling area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Virginia colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Sterling area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Sterling area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid 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 Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many Sterling area dental programs have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you choose 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 a regional dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Sterling dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the Virginia programs you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 20163 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Sterling in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Program near Sterling VAPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented 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.