How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Headland 36345
Picking the right dental assistant training near Headland AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial 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 getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Headland dental practice and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their primary job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering 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 policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Headland dental hygienist to that of an assistant, 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 a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination 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 Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 clinical aspect to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Headland area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Headland home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental program is the right option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Headland area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Headland area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? 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 options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Headland area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of Headland area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select offers adequate 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, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Headland dental practice. They make it easier for 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 Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Check with the Alabama colleges you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger 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 experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36345 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Headland in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Select the Ideal Dental School near Headland ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning 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 in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.