How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Needham 36915
Picking the right dental assistant program near Needham AL is an essential first step toward beginning 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 picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting 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 normally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Needham dental practice and can carry out a wide range of duties. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office 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 most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Needham dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 licensure examinations. 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 courses are offered at Alabama community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 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 assistant classes. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete 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 pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Needham area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant college may be a great option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes 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 personal computer in the comfort of your Needham home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an online dental college is the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Needham area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps 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 schools 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 evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. 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 get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Needham area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of Needham area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. 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 school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most Needham area dental schools have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select offers enough 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, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Needham 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 are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs 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 in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor 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 Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs 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 examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36915 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Needham in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required 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 emergencies.
Find the Right Dental Program near Needham ALPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided 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 hygienist or assistant.