How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Gulf Shores 36542
Picking the right dental assistant program near Gulf Shores AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. 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 explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Gulf Shores dental office and can perform a wide range of tasks. Their primary job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have 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 contrasting the duties of a Gulf Shores dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably 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 supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out 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
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. Once 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 Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including 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 offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Gulf Shores area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school might be a good option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Gulf Shores home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often 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 appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental program is the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Gulf Shores area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Gulf Shores area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Gulf Shores area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many Gulf Shores area dental programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Gulf Shores dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36542 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Gulf Shores at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Program near Gulf Shores ALSelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning 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 presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.