How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Owens Cross Roads 35763
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist training near Owens Cross Roads AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 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 common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months 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 lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Owens Cross Roads dental practice and can carry out a variety of tasks. Their principal job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing 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 policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Owens Cross Roads dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier 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 frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to hold 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of 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 Owens Cross Roads area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Owens Cross Roads home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies 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 clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an online dental school is the right option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
When you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Owens Cross Roads area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Owens Cross Roads area employers often prefer 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 available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify 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. If you want to work as a hygienist, a large number of Owens Cross Roads 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 and accreditation does not mean all 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Owens Cross Roads area dental colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in offers adequate 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, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Owens Cross Roads 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 Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama schools you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35763 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Owens Cross Roads at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Best Dental School near Owens Cross Roads ALEnrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain 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 approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided 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.