How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Bridgeport 35740
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Bridgeport AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Bridgeport dental office and can undertake a wide range of duties. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most 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) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Bridgeport dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, 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 typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every 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 responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing 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 Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Bridgeport area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Bridgeport home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary 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 practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental school is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Bridgeport area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Bridgeport area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you choose offers 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 have a career as a hygienist, most Bridgeport area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an excellent 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 best college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most Bridgeport area dental schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Bridgeport 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 look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out 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 profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Alabama programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be 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 so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35740 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Bridgeport at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Program near Bridgeport ALSelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training 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 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.