How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Heflin 36264
Choosing the ideal dental assistant college near Heflin AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial 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 obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should 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 offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Heflin dental office and can undertake a myriad of duties. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. However most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Heflin dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier 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 an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums 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 plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to have 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Heflin area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Heflin home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the best option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
Once you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Heflin area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Heflin area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Heflin area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong 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, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of Heflin area dental colleges have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Heflin 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 look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the Alabama schools you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as 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 substantial 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 comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36264 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Heflin in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Ideal Dental School near Heflin ALPicking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.