Accredited Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Livingston AL 35470

How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Livingston 35470

dental assistant training in Livingston ALPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Livingston AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and additional 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 hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Livingston dental assistant helping dentist 35470Dental assistants are an integral component of any Livingston dental practice and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, including:

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

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Livingston dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the role of a Livingston dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, 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 an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Educating 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 have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational 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. Some programs also offer internships with Livingston area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Training

attending dental assistant school online in Livingston homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Livingston home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best choice for you.

Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 35470After you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Livingston area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good 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 condition 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 ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Livingston area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of Livingston area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation as well as 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of Livingston area dental programs have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Livingston dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges require help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the Alabama programs you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35470 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Livingston at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Pick the Ideal Dental College near Livingston AL

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position 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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