How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Cleveland 35049
Choosing the right dental assistant program near Cleveland AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. 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 expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Cleveland dental office and can undertake a myriad of tasks. Their principal job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. 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 Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Cleveland dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly 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, deal 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 room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast 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 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Cleveland area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Classes
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Cleveland home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental online school is the best option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Cleveland area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama schools 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 ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Cleveland area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school 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. If you want to work as a hygienist, a large number of Cleveland area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may 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 ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most Cleveland area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college 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 practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Cleveland dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools require help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at 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 broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the Alabama schools you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on 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 making a commitment.
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 volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35049 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Cleveland in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Select the Best Dental Program near Cleveland ALChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.