How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Opelika 36801
Selecting the right dental assistant school near Opelika AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations 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 generally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually 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 explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Opelika dental practice and can undertake a myriad of duties. Their primary job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Opelika dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Opelika area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Opelika home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
After you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Opelika area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Opelika 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 schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Opelika area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an exceptional 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many Opelika area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Opelika dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges need assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36801 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Opelika in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical 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.
Find the Ideal Dental School near Opelika ALSelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to acquire your training 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.