How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Falkville 35622
Choosing the right dental hygienist training near Falkville AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. 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 money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Falkville dental practice and can perform a myriad of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Falkville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists 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 room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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 examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the added responsibility in contrast 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 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Falkville area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Falkville home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Falkville area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, 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. Falkville area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Falkville area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many Falkville area dental programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Falkville dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, 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 costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35622 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Falkville at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have 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 illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Dental College near Falkville ALSelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. 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 choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.