How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Hanceville 35077
Choosing the right dental assistant college near Hanceville AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 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 issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Hanceville dental office and can perform a wide range of duties. Their primary job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying 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 mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need 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 Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Hanceville dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of 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 typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually 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 trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Hanceville area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a viable option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Hanceville home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the right choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Hanceville area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, 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 training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Hanceville area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you decide on 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, many Hanceville area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of Hanceville area dental programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Hanceville dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35077 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Hanceville in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental School near Hanceville ALPicking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.