How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Hamilton 35570
Choosing the ideal dental assistant school near Hamilton AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking 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 also, for instance the college’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 time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Hamilton dental office and can undertake a wide range of tasks. Their main job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of 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 called upon to complete, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing 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 need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Hamilton dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, 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 a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled 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 offered at Alabama junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Hamilton area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school might be a good option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Hamilton home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the best choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Hamilton area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify 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 education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Hamilton area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the school you select offers 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, a large number of Hamilton area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an excellent 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 just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most Hamilton area dental programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Hamilton 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 too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama colleges you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35570 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, 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 acquiring your education and must go to classes near Hamilton at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Dental School near Hamilton ALSelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning 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 asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.