How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Midland City 36350
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Midland City AL is an essential initial step toward launching 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 selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Midland City dental office and can undertake a myriad of duties. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Midland City dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to have 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 almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Midland City area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant college may be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Midland City home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the right choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the process of comparing Midland City area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Midland City area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you choose has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, a large number of Midland City area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one 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 ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most Midland City area dental programs have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Midland City dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Alabama schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36350 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Midland City in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, 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 have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Select the Best Dental School near Midland City ALPicking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.