How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Billingsley 36006
Picking the ideal dental assistant college near Billingsley AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Billingsley dental office and can perform a wide range of tasks. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Billingsley dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are normally required to have 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 assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Billingsley area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a viable option for getting your education. 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 accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Billingsley home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online school is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
Once you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Billingsley area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Billingsley area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, most Billingsley area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid 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, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. A number of Billingsley area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Billingsley dental practice. They help 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Alabama schools you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, 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 school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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 examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36006 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Billingsley at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Dental Program near Billingsley ALEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.