How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Enterprise 36330
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Enterprise AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Enterprise dental practice and can perform a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving 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 consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Enterprise dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. 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 an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to have 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Enterprise area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a good option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Enterprise home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental college is the best option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Enterprise area programs and schools. 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 alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Enterprise area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. 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 opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of Enterprise area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most Enterprise area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Enterprise 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 Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at 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 in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools 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 expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36330 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Enterprise in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need 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 because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Dental School near Enterprise ALPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 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 training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.