How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Helena 35080
Picking the ideal dental assistant training near Helena AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Helena dental office and can undertake a wide range of duties. Their main job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting 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 handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than 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) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Helena dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 licensing exams. When they have fulfilled 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 provided at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Helena area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Helena 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 offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Helena area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Even though 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 arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Helena area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm 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 work as a hygienist, the majority of Helena area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of Helena area dental programs have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Helena dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Alabama schools you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35080 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Helena in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have 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 due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Dental Program near Helena ALChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.