How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Mount Vernon 36560
Selecting the right dental assistant college near Mount Vernon AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive 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 college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Mount Vernon dental office and can carry out a multitude of tasks. Their primary job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary 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 certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Mount Vernon dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal 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 gums and teeth and present 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
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast 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 two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Mount Vernon area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Schools
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Mount Vernon home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Mount Vernon area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right 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 program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually 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 establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Mount Vernon area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you choose offers 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 work as a hygienist, the majority of Mount Vernon area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most Mount Vernon area dental programs have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Mount Vernon 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 Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering 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 profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Alabama schools you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs 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 colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36560 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Mount Vernon in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Select the Best Dental Program near Mount Vernon ALSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree 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 in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.