How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Dauphin Island 36528
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Dauphin Island AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations 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 Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Dauphin Island dental practice and can undertake a variety of functions. Their main job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Dauphin Island dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly 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 usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to have 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Dauphin Island area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Classes
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally 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 Dauphin Island home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental online college is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Dauphin Island area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental college 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 intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Dauphin Island area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you select offers 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 work as a hygienist, most Dauphin Island area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good reputation as well as 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many Dauphin Island area dental schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you choose provides enough 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 program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Dauphin Island dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alabama schools you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36528 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Dauphin Island at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Select the Best Dental Program near Dauphin Island ALChoosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide 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 begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.