How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Spanish Fort 36527
Picking the right dental assistant school near Spanish Fort AL is an essential initial step toward launching 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 completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to consider as well, for instance the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Spanish Fort dental office and can carry out a variety of functions. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- 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 office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Spanish Fort dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish 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 usually 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 almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Spanish Fort area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind 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 provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Spanish Fort home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can start the process of comparing Spanish Fort area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Spanish Fort area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of Spanish Fort area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, 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 solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many Spanish Fort area dental schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Spanish Fort dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36527 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Spanish Fort in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Find the Best Dental Program near Spanish Fort ALPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually 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 usually require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.