How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Homewood 96141
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Homewood AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to consider also, for instance the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Homewood dental office and can perform a wide range of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary 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 licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Homewood dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably 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 typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are usually required to have 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 almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Homewood area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Homewood home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area 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 discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the right choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
Once you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Homewood area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Homewood area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you decide on offers the program that you want. 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 Homewood area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most Homewood area dental schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Homewood dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ 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 whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 96141 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Homewood at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, 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 need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Select the Best Dental Program near Homewood ALChoosing the ideal 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 you now know, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually 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 usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to 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 in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.