Top Dental Hygienist Programs | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Fulton AL 36446

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Fulton 36446

dental assistant training in Fulton ALPicking the ideal dental assistant school near Fulton AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider also, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.

The Job of a Dental Assistant

Fulton dental assistant helping dentist 36446Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Fulton dental practice and can perform a myriad of duties. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

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

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Fulton dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen contrasting the duties of a Fulton dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

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

In order to be licensed 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Fulton area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Fulton homeEnrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a viable option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Fulton home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental college is the right choice for you.

Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 36446When you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Fulton area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fulton area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you choose offers the program that you want. 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 Fulton area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. 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 college 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, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most Fulton area dental programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose provides enough 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, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Fulton dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Alabama programs you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36446 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Fulton in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, 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 need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Pick the Right Dental Program near Fulton AL

Selecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period 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 working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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