How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Collinsville 35961
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Collinsville AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Collinsville dental office and can perform a multitude of duties. Their main job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- 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
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Collinsville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, 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 duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Collinsville area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college may be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Collinsville home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually 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 furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Collinsville area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Collinsville area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you decide on offers 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, most Collinsville area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many Collinsville area dental colleges have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Collinsville dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs 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 the Classes Smaller? Ask the Alabama schools you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35961 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm 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 have to go to classes near Collinsville at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Dental College near Collinsville ALChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you wish 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 obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.