How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Lincoln 35096
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Lincoln AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Lincoln dental office and can perform a variety of functions. Their primary job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most 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 Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Lincoln dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Lincoln area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Lincoln home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened 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 needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Lincoln area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama programs you are looking at 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 best dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lincoln area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Lincoln area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, 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 could 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 ideal school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most Lincoln area dental schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Lincoln dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the Alabama programs you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs 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 schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35096 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Lincoln at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Dental School near Lincoln ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering 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 ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.