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Top Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Lester AL 35647

How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Lester 35647

dental assistant training in Lester ALPicking the right dental hygienist school near Lester AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Job of a Dental Assistant

Lester dental assistant helping dentist 35647Dental assistants are an integral part of any Lester dental office and can undertake a multitude of duties. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Supplying 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 handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Lester dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the role of a Lester dental hygienist to that of an assistant, 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 dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching patients regarding oral care
  • 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 licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to hold 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Lester area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Training

attending dental assistant school online in Lester homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Lester home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental college is the ideal choice for you.

Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 35647After you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you want to earn, you can start the process of comparing Lester area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Lester area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, most Lester area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an excellent 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 may 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 best school for you.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of Lester area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Lester dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs 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 profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35647 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Lester at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Find the Right Dental College near Lester AL

Selecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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