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Find Dental Hygienist Schools | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Decatur AL 35601

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Decatur 35601

dental assistant training in Decatur ALSelecting the ideal dental hygienist training near Decatur AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two 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 common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Duties of Dental Assistants

Decatur dental assistant helping dentist 35601Dental assistants are an integral part of any Decatur dental office and can perform a myriad of tasks. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Decatur dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the role of a Decatur dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Instructing patients regarding oral care
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

In order to be licensed in almost 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama junior colleges as well as vocational or technical 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, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Decatur area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Decatur homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Decatur home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental school is the ideal choice for you.

Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 35601When you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Decatur area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Decatur area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure 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 earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Decatur area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation as well as 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 Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most Decatur area dental programs have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Decatur dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Alabama programs you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience 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 colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 analyzing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35601 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure 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 Decatur at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.

Pick the Best Dental College near Decatur AL

Enrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to receive your education 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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