Top Dental Assistant Colleges | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Washington Crossing PA 18977

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Washington Crossing 18977

dental assistant training in Washington Crossing PASelecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Washington Crossing PA is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have 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 generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Job of Dental Assistants

Washington Crossing dental assistant helping dentist 18977Dental assistants are an essential part of any Washington Crossing dental practice and can undertake a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Pennsylvania dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, such as:

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

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than 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) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Washington Crossing dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen comparing the duties of a Washington Crossing dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching patients about 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 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 regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at Pennsylvania community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Washington Crossing area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Washington Crossing homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a good alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes 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 Washington Crossing home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best choice for you.

What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 18977When you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Washington Crossing area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Pennsylvania schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Washington Crossing area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Washington Crossing area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good 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 just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most Washington Crossing area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Washington Crossing dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Pennsylvania colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost dependent on the duration 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 come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 18977 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Washington Crossing at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.

Find the Ideal Dental Program near Washington Crossing PA

Selecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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