How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Ashland 36251
Picking the right dental assistant program near Ashland AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Ashland dental practice and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Ashland dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. 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 typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete 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 practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Ashland area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Ashland home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Ashland area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Ashland area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you choose has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Ashland area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many Ashland area dental schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Ashland dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the Alabama schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36251 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Ashland in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Dental School near Ashland ALPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented 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.