How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Cordova 35550
Choosing the right dental assistant program near Cordova AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually 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 talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Cordova dental practice and can perform a multitude of functions. Their principal job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Cordova dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically 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. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Cordova area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a viable option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Cordova home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an dental online program is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Cordova area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental School 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 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 ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Cordova area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Cordova area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear 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 solid 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, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. A number of Cordova area dental colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select offers sufficient 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 a local dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Cordova dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Alabama programs you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35550 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Cordova in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required 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 because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Ideal Dental College near Cordova ALSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 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 mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.