How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Elba 36323
Selecting the ideal dental assistant college near Elba AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving 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 certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Elba dental office and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their primary 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 opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- 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 check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Elba dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, 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 an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Elba area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Elba home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Elba area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending 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 college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Elba area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Elba area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of Elba area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Elba dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36323 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Elba in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Ideal Dental College near Elba ALPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. 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 addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.