Accredited Dental Assistant Training | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Stoneham MA 02180

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Stoneham 02180

dental assistant training in Stoneham MASelecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Stoneham MA is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the program’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 time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.

The Duties of Dental Assistants

Stoneham dental assistant helping dentist 02180Dental assistants are an integral part of any Stoneham dental practice and can carry out a wide range of functions. Their primary job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Massachusetts dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Massachusetts dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many 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 a Dental Hygienist

Stoneham dental hygienist treating patient in MassachusettsWhen contrasting the job of a Stoneham dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Massachusetts practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Educating patients regarding oral care
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled 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 programs are offered at Massachusetts junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to hold 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Stoneham area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Stoneham homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a good alternative 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 available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Stoneham home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental online school is the best option for you.

Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask Massachusetts dental colleges 02180After you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the process of comparing Stoneham area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Massachusetts colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Stoneham area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, many Stoneham area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one 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 just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many Stoneham area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Stoneham dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Massachusetts schools you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few 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 Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 02180 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Stoneham in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required 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 because of work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Best Dental Program near Stoneham MA

Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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