How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Alton 35015
Choosing the ideal dental assistant training near Alton AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally 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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Alton dental practice and can perform a multitude of tasks. Their principal job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing 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 need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Alton dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually required to hold 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Alton area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a great option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Alton home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online 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 program is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
After you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Alton area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Alton area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you decide on has 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. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Alton area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Alton area dental programs have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Alton dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high 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 Smaller? Ask the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35015 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Alton in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Right Dental College near Alton ALSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior 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 working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.