How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Dothan 36301
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Dothan AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Dothan dental practice and can undertake a variety of functions. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Dothan dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 exams. 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 and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. 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 sponsor internships with Dothan area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Dothan home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental college is the best choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
When you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the process of comparing Dothan area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Dothan area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Dothan 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 school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school 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, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most Dothan area dental colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers 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 are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Dothan dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs require help landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent 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? Ask the Alabama programs you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36301 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Dothan at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Find the Ideal Dental College near Dothan ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.