How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Lexington 35648
Selecting the right dental assistant training near Lexington AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, for instance the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Lexington dental practice and can carry out a wide range of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Lexington dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform 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
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 Exam as well as any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three 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 assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Lexington area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a viable alternative for receiving your education. 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 provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Lexington home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental online college is the best choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Lexington area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs you are looking at in order to reach 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 right dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, 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 ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lexington area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, 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 elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college 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 work as a hygienist, the majority of Lexington area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid 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, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many Lexington area dental schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Lexington dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the Alabama schools you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, 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 substantial 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35648 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Lexington at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Dental School near Lexington ALPicking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, 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 training through dental programs at junior 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 practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.