How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Chatom 36518
Choosing the right dental assistant training near Chatom AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to consider as well, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 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 usually takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically 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 cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Chatom dental office and can undertake a multitude of duties. Their main job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Chatom dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting 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 gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Chatom area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a good option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Chatom home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice 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 mode of education, you might find that attending an dental online school is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can start the process of comparing Chatom area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, 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 establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Chatom area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college 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. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, most Chatom area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Chatom area dental colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Chatom dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help getting 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 are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the Alabama programs you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36518 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Chatom in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Dental School near Chatom ALSelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally 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 about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.