Accredited Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Williamsport PA 17701

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Williamsport 17701

dental assistant training in Williamsport PAChoosing the ideal dental assistant college near Williamsport PA is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. 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 common dental assistant program generally 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 two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.

The Job of a Dental Assistant

Williamsport dental assistant helping dentist 17701Dental assistants are an important part of any Williamsport dental office and can carry out a variety of duties. Their fundamental job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Pennsylvania dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, including:

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

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Williamsport dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen comparing the role of a Williamsport dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Instructing patients about oral hygiene
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant courses are provided at Pennsylvania community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Williamsport area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Williamsport homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Williamsport home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental college is the best option for you.

Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 17701After you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can start the process of comparing Williamsport area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Pennsylvania colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Williamsport area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Williamsport area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation and 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most Williamsport area dental programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Williamsport dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges need help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Pennsylvania programs you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one 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 level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 17701 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Williamsport at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need 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 due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Pick the Best Dental School near Williamsport PA

Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your education 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate 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 provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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