How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Demopolis 36732
Picking the ideal dental assistant school near Demopolis AL 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 doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial 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 are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Demopolis dental office and can perform a wide range of functions. Their primary job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need 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 offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Demopolis dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama 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 every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Demopolis area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Demopolis home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the best choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Demopolis area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are intending 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 training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Demopolis area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you decide on 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. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Demopolis area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an excellent 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 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 best school for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many Demopolis area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Demopolis dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching 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 extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36732 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Demopolis at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Dental Program near Demopolis ALPicking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education 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 working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree 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 in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.