How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Knoxville 35469
Picking the ideal dental assistant training near Knoxville AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months 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 finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Knoxville dental practice and can perform a multitude of functions. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing 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 working with X-ray machines most 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) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Knoxville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often 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 trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Knoxville area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Training
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember 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 available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Knoxville home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental online school is the best choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Knoxville area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided 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 several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program 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. Knoxville area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many Knoxville 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 college 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many Knoxville area dental colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want 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 an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Knoxville dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching 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 as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the Alabama programs you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35469 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Knoxville at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Right Dental Program near Knoxville ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.