How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Montevallo 35115
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Montevallo AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations 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 typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Montevallo dental office and can perform a wide range of tasks. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Montevallo dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, 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 a one-to-one 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 present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 as well as any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Montevallo area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Montevallo home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental college is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Montevallo area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Montevallo area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can elect 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 options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Montevallo area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an excellent 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most Montevallo area dental colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Montevallo dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the Alabama programs you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if 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 costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35115 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Montevallo in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Dental School near Montevallo ALEnrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 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 training or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.