How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Northport 35473
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Northport AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first 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 normally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Northport dental practice and can carry out a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give support 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 acquire certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- 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 vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Northport dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, 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 usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform 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
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam as well as any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Northport area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a good option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Northport home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
After you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Northport area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Alabama programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Northport area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of Northport area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could 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 right school for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many Northport area dental colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Northport dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges need help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama schools you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 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 colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35473 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Northport at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Ideal Dental College near Northport ALSelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.