How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Fultondale 35068
Picking the ideal dental assistant college near Fultondale AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Fultondale dental office and can carry out a multitude of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Fultondale dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 clinical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Fultondale area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Fultondale home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
Once you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to attain, you can start the process of comparing Fultondale area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fultondale area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, many Fultondale area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good 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 could 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 best college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of Fultondale area dental schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Fultondale dental practice. They help 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 Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require help obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the Alabama programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35068 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Fultondale in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Dental College near Fultondale ALEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course 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 acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies prior to entering 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 education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.