Top Dental Assistant Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Shelby AL 35143

How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Shelby 35143

dental assistant training in Shelby ALSelecting the right dental hygienist training near Shelby AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial 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 money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Shelby dental assistant helping dentist 35143Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Shelby dental practice and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, for example:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

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

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Shelby dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen contrasting the job of a Shelby dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Instructing patients about oral hygiene
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed 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 provided at Alabama community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally required to hold 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Shelby area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Shelby homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Shelby home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online school is the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 35143Once you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Shelby area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Shelby area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you decide on offers the program that you want. 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, many Shelby area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean all 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most Shelby area dental schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Shelby 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 too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Small? Ask the Alabama schools you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether 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 costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35143 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Shelby at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have 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 work, illness or family responsibilities.

Pick the Right Dental Program near Shelby AL

Picking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by asking 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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