How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Tallassee 36078
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Tallassee AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial 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 invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Tallassee dental office and can perform a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving 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 differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many 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 Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Tallassee dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the increased responsibility as compared 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 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Tallassee area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Tallassee home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office 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 discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online college is the best choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the process of comparing Tallassee area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are comparing in order to reach 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 right dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Tallassee area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, most Tallassee area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of Tallassee area dental programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Tallassee dental practice. They make it easier for 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 too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alabama programs you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall 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 practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36078 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Tallassee at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, 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 due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Select the Right Dental Program near Tallassee ALSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain 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 approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.