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Top Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Centreville AL 35042

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Centreville 35042

dental assistant training in Centreville ALSelecting the ideal dental assistant program near Centreville AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two 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 normally takes about 1 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 accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Role of a Dental Assistant

Centreville dental assistant helping dentist 35042Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Centreville dental office and can perform a wide range of duties. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, for example:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Centreville dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen contrasting the duties of a Centreville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual 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 report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching patients about oral care
  • 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally required to have 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Centreville area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Centreville homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Centreville home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the right choice for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 35042After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Centreville area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to make 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 right dental program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Centreville area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Centreville area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong 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, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many Centreville area dental schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Centreville dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration 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 expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35042 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Centreville at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Dental Program near Centreville AL

Enrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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