How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Stevenson 35772
Selecting the ideal dental assistant training near Stevenson AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the program’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 money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Stevenson dental practice and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their main job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. However most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- 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 consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than 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 Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Stevenson dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- 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 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 community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Stevenson area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a great option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Stevenson home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental office 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 discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental program is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Stevenson area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Stevenson area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of Stevenson area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has a good 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of Stevenson area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Stevenson dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs 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 the Classes Small? Ask the Alabama schools you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35772 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Stevenson at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Dental College near Stevenson ALSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to receive 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.