How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Millbrook 36054
Picking the right dental assistant school near Millbrook AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations 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 common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Millbrook dental office and can carry out a multitude of functions. Their principal job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most 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 role of a Millbrook dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to hold 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of 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 Millbrook area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Schools
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Millbrook home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed 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 discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the ideal option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Millbrook area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Millbrook area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, many Millbrook area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has a good 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most Millbrook area dental schools have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind 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 program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Millbrook dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36054 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Millbrook in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Dental College near Millbrook ALEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.