How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Gilbertown 36908
Picking the right dental assistant college near Gilbertown AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. 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 invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically 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 expense. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Gilbertown dental practice and can carry out a multitude of duties. Their main job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. However most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Gilbertown dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting 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 every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Gilbertown area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college may be a good alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Gilbertown home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental school is the right choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
When you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Gilbertown area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right 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 intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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. Gilbertown area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, many Gilbertown area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an exceptional 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 may 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 college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many Gilbertown area dental schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Gilbertown dental practice. They help 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 also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36908 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Gilbertown at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Dental School near Gilbertown ALChoosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.