How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Houston 35572
Selecting the ideal dental assistant school near Houston AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Houston dental office and can undertake a variety of duties. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing 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 have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Houston dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously 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 usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Houston area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a good alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Houston home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an dental online program is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
When you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Houston area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order 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 education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Houston area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many Houston area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent 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 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 best college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of Houston area dental programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Houston 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 are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alabama programs you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs 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 programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35572 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm 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 have to go to classes near Houston at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Dental School near Houston ALSelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.