How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Andalusia 36420
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Andalusia AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, such as the program’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 are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Andalusia dental practice and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification 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 need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Andalusia dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared 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 two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Andalusia area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Andalusia home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental college is the best option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Andalusia area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama schools 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 due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Andalusia area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you choose has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Andalusia area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has a good reputation as well as 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most Andalusia area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Andalusia dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges need help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job placement 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 large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Alabama programs you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall 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 clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36420 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Andalusia at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical 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 responsibilities.
Find the Ideal Dental College near Andalusia ALChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.