How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Fort Payne 35967
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Fort Payne AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Fort Payne dental office and can perform a myriad of duties. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Fort Payne dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally required to hold 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Fort Payne area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a great option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Fort Payne home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. 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 get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental program is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Fort Payne area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fort Payne area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you decide on offers 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, most Fort Payne area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has a good reputation as well as 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, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many Fort Payne area dental programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Fort Payne dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Check with the Alabama colleges you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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 expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35967 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Fort Payne at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical 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 responsibilities.
Choose the Ideal Dental School near Fort Payne ALPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.