How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Cottondale 35453
Choosing the right dental hygienist training near Cottondale AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Cottondale dental office and can undertake a multitude of duties. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of 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
When comparing the duties of a Cottondale dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each 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 duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When 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 Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to hold 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Cottondale area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a good option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Cottondale home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental school is the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Cottondale area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Cottondale area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Cottondale area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many Cottondale area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Cottondale 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 look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need help getting their first job. Check if the colleges 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 broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama schools you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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 schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35453 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Cottondale in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Dental Program near Cottondale ALSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.