How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Guntersville 35976
Selecting the ideal dental assistant school near Guntersville AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent 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 finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Guntersville dental office and can carry out a wide range of functions. Their main job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming 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 dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. 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 Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Guntersville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered 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 offered at Alabama junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Guntersville area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Guntersville home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the best option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Guntersville area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Guntersville area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Guntersville area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many Guntersville area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you choose offers enough 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, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Guntersville dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools need help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance 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 place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35976 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Guntersville at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Select the Ideal Dental Program near Guntersville ALEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to acquire your training 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing 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.