How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Florence 35630
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Florence AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Florence dental practice and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their primary job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling 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 regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Florence dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists 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 usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Examination as well as any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Florence area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a good alternative for obtaining 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 rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Florence home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the best choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
When you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Florence area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, 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 guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Florence area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, many Florence area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, 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 strong accredited dental assistant program, but may 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 Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of Florence area dental schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest 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 treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Florence dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the Alabama schools you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer 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 so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35630 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to 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 must attend classes near Florence at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Select the Best Dental School near Florence ALChoosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several 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 acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.