How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Belle Mina 35615
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Belle Mina AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Belle Mina dental office and can perform a wide range of duties. Their principal job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Belle Mina dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier 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 often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Belle Mina area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a good option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Belle Mina home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental school is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can start the process of comparing Belle Mina area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options also. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are reviewing 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 ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify 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 training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Belle Mina area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you select has the program that you want. 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 Belle Mina area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college 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, clearly it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of Belle Mina area dental schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Belle Mina dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges require help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Alabama schools you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35615 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Belle Mina in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Dental School near Belle Mina ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally 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 generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.