How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Clinton 35448
Choosing the ideal dental assistant program near Clinton AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically 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 cost. We will cover 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 roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Clinton dental office and can carry out a multitude of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering 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 mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Clinton dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first 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 also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. 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 Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally required to hold 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. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Clinton area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Schools
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Clinton home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental online college is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Clinton area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied 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 many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. 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 exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Clinton area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you choose 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 have a career as a hygienist, most Clinton area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good 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 ideal college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most Clinton area dental schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Clinton dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the Alabama schools you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35448 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Clinton at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in 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 have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Select the Best Dental School near Clinton ALSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.