How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Panola 35477
Choosing the right dental assistant college near Panola AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are looking at 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 Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Panola dental practice and can perform a myriad of tasks. Their main job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing 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 have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Panola dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Panola area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Panola home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the best choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Panola area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Panola area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, many Panola 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 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 solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of Panola area dental schools have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Panola dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35477 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Panola in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Dental School near Panola ALPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.