How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Huntsville 35801
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Huntsville AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Huntsville dental practice and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Huntsville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, 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 an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Huntsville area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a viable option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Huntsville home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online college is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
When you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can start the process of comparing Huntsville area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama programs you are looking at 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 best dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, 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 guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Huntsville area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Huntsville area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of Huntsville area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides enough 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, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Huntsville 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 are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Alabama schools you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer 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 monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35801 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Huntsville in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, 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 issues.
Choose the Ideal Dental College near Huntsville ALChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish 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 relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.