How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Normal 35762
Selecting the ideal dental assistant college near Normal AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional 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 provided.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Normal dental practice and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their primary job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving 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 deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many 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 contrasting the role of a Normal dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly 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 assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can 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 technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive 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 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Normal area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a good option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Normal home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online college is the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Normal area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of 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 condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Normal area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you select offers 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 have a career as a hygienist, many Normal area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation as well as 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 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 Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of Normal area dental programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Normal dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing 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 as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Alabama programs you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting 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, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35762 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Normal at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Ideal Dental School near Normal ALChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.