How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Birmingham 35201
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Birmingham GA is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, including the program’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 depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Birmingham dental practice and can perform a myriad of functions. Their primary job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Georgia dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Georgia dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most 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 Birmingham dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Georgia practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Georgia junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to have 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Birmingham area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Birmingham home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Birmingham area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Georgia colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning 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 guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Birmingham area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Birmingham area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most Birmingham area dental programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Birmingham dental practice. They help 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 Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Georgia colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses 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 aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35201 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Birmingham at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Select the Right Dental College near Birmingham GAEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.