How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Abbeville 36310
Picking the ideal dental assistant training near Abbeville AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. 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 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Abbeville dental practice and can perform a variety of duties. Their fundamental job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most 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) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Abbeville dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main 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 a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 as well as any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Abbeville area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Abbeville home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies 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 online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an online dental college is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
When you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Abbeville area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Abbeville area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the school you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, most Abbeville area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most Abbeville area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Abbeville 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges need assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools 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 profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama schools you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with 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 analyzing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36310 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Abbeville in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, 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 need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Find the Best Dental Program near Abbeville ALSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to obtain your training 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 junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two 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 mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing 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 assistant or hygienist.