How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Lafayette 36862
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Lafayette AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Lafayette dental office and can carry out a myriad of tasks. Their main job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Lafayette dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding 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 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 licensing examinations. 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 courses are offered at Alabama junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Lafayette area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Schools
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Lafayette home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental college is the right option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Lafayette area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are going 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 school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lafayette area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Lafayette area dental practices 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 school 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, obviously it would not be the best college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many Lafayette area dental schools have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Lafayette dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs 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 employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the Alabama schools you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training 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 whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36862 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Lafayette in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Dental Program near Lafayette ALChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.