How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Cullman 35055
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Cullman AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged 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 evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Cullman dental office and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Cullman dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. 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 tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the increased responsibility as compared 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 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 clinical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Cullman area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Cullman home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically 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 proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online college is the right choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Cullman area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Cullman area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the school you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Cullman area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of Cullman area dental colleges have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Cullman 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 also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama schools you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35055 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Cullman in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Select the Best Dental Program near Cullman ALPicking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior 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 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.