How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Blountsville 35031
Choosing the ideal dental assistant school near Blountsville AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider as well, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations 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 typical dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Blountsville dental practice and can undertake a multitude 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 working efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. A large number of 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 Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Blountsville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists 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 room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to hold 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Blountsville area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Blountsville home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental online school is the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
When you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Blountsville area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college 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. Blountsville area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of Blountsville area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher 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 solid accredited dental assistant program, but may 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 Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many Blountsville area dental programs have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in provides adequate 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 college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Blountsville dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the Alabama colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35031 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Blountsville at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Dental Program near Blountsville ALChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to acquire your education 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 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 typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.