How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Leroy 36548
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Leroy AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Leroy dental office and can undertake a wide range of functions. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving 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 differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. A large number of 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 Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Leroy dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with 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 tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Leroy area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Leroy home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the right option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Leroy area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, 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 Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Leroy area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the school you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, most Leroy area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most Leroy area dental programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Leroy dental practice. They help 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 Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36548 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Leroy at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Ideal Dental College near Leroy ALChoosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.