How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Mobile 36601
Picking the right dental assistant school near Mobile AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Mobile dental office and can perform a variety of duties. Their fundamental job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However most assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Mobile dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, 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 an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching 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 in addition to passing any state licensure 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 & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Mobile area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a good alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Mobile home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental school is the best option for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
When you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Mobile area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program 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. Mobile area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you choose has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of Mobile area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an exceptional 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 could 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 ideal college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most Mobile area dental schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Mobile dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36601 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Mobile at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Best Dental School near Mobile ALEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to receive your training 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 junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training 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 selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.