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Find Dental Hygienist Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Lowndesboro AL 36752

How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Lowndesboro 36752

dental assistant training in Lowndesboro ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Lowndesboro AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first 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 generally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Job of a Dental Assistant

Lowndesboro dental assistant helping dentist 36752Dental assistants are an essential part of any Lowndesboro dental office and can perform a wide range of duties. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, such as:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of Dental Hygienists

Lowndesboro dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the role of a Lowndesboro dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably 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 a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Instructing patients about oral care
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

In order to be licensed in nearly 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 licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Lowndesboro area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Lowndesboro homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Lowndesboro home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an dental online college is the ideal choice for you.

Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 36752When you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Lowndesboro area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lowndesboro area employers typically 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 available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of Lowndesboro area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right school for you.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most Lowndesboro area dental programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Lowndesboro dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Check with the Alabama colleges you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36752 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Lowndesboro in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Dental College near Lowndesboro AL

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your training 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 community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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