How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Elberta 36530
Choosing the right dental assistant training near Elberta AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting 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 complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Elberta dental office and can undertake a wide range of tasks. Their primary job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many 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 Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Elberta dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main 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 initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including 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 almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Elberta area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a great option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Elberta home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Elberta area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama schools 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 final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Elberta area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of Elberta area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep 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 solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most Elberta area dental colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Elberta dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges 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 profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Alabama colleges you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses 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 36530 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Elberta at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Dental Program near Elberta ALPicking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.