How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Saint Elmo 36568
Choosing the ideal dental assistant program near Saint Elmo AL is an important initial step toward beginning 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 training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations 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 usually takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Saint Elmo dental office and can undertake a myriad of duties. Their primary job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. 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 choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Saint Elmo dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 as well as any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive 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 normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Saint Elmo area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Saint Elmo home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental online college is the best option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
After you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Saint Elmo area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Saint Elmo area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Saint Elmo area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most Saint Elmo area dental schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish 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 ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Saint Elmo dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Check with the Alabama colleges you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks 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. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36568 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Saint Elmo in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Find the Best Dental Program near Saint Elmo ALSelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.