How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Louisville 36048
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist training near Louisville AL is an essential first 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 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 important issues to consider also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore 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 hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Louisville dental office and can perform a variety of tasks. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering 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 mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Louisville dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Louisville area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a great option for obtaining your education. 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 desktop computer in the comfort of your Louisville home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental school is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
Once you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Louisville area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options also. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Louisville area employers often desire 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 offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Louisville area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has a good reputation and 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most Louisville area dental colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Louisville 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 are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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 programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36048 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Louisville at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Dental Program near Louisville ALChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.