How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Alabaster 35007
Picking the right dental assistant training near Alabaster AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. 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 money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Alabaster dental practice and can undertake a myriad of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Alabaster dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every 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 plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once 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 Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally 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 nearly 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Alabaster area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Alabaster home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an online dental school is the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Alabaster area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Alabaster area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you decide on offers 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, many Alabaster area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many Alabaster area dental programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Alabaster dental practice. They help 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 also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama programs you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35007 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Alabaster in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Dental School near Alabaster ALPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose 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 right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.