How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Harpersville 35078
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Harpersville AL is an important first step toward starting 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 choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Harpersville dental practice and can undertake a myriad of functions. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Harpersville 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 assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often 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 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 aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Harpersville area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind 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 accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Harpersville home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an online dental school is the best option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Harpersville area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, 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. Harpersville area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Harpersville area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one 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, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most Harpersville area dental schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Harpersville 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 are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama colleges you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out 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 degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35078 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Harpersville in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Dental School near Harpersville ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect 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 begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.