How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near New Castle 35119
Picking the right dental hygienist college near New Castle AL is an essential initial step toward starting 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 selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial 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 money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any New Castle dental practice and can perform a variety of functions. Their main job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving 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 vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than 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 Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a New Castle dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually required to have 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 trade schools and community colleges. 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with New Castle area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your New Castle home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental online program is the best option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing New Castle area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. New Castle area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of New Castle area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school 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, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many New Castle area dental schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional New Castle dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools need help getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama programs you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges 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 expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35119 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near New Castle in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Ideal Dental School near New Castle ALPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering 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 education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.