How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Oakman 35579
Selecting the right dental hygienist training near Oakman AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties 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 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Oakman dental office and can perform a wide range of functions. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling 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 handling 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 policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Oakman dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, 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 interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Oakman area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Oakman home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
Once you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Oakman area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oakman area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? 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 options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Oakman area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep 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 strong 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 best school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Oakman area dental programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Oakman dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at 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 position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the Alabama colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35579 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Oakman in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Dental Program near Oakman ALPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.