How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Haleyville 35565
Choosing the ideal dental assistant college near Haleyville AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations 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 usually takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Haleyville dental office and can undertake a wide range of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and confirming 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
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Haleyville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to hold 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Haleyville area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Haleyville home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed 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 provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Haleyville area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Alabama programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Haleyville area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Haleyville 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 an exceptional 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of Haleyville area dental schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Haleyville dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, 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 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 colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35565 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Haleyville at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Dental School near Haleyville ALSelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant 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 many options offered to receive 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 junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.