How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Killen 35645
Picking the ideal dental assistant training near Killen AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two 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 typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Killen dental practice and can undertake a variety of duties. Their main job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most 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 Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Killen dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing 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 have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often 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. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Killen area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Killen home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. 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 proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the best option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Killen area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Killen area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Killen area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of Killen area dental schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Killen 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 are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools need help obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama programs you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example 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 substantial 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 schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35645 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Killen in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Dental Program near Killen ALPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. 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 usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.