How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Citronelle 36522
Selecting the ideal dental assistant school near Citronelle AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Citronelle dental practice and can undertake a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- 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
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Citronelle dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. 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 frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. 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 Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Citronelle area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Citronelle home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental college is the best option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Citronelle area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Citronelle area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Citronelle area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because 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 strong 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, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of Citronelle area dental programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Citronelle 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 are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Alabama programs you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, 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 teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36522 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Citronelle at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Dental School near Citronelle ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.