How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Piedmont 36272
Choosing the right dental assistant training near Piedmont AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Piedmont dental practice and can perform a myriad of functions. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. 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, for example orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping 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 handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. 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 elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Piedmont dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. 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 responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 licensure examinations. When 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 & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Piedmont area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a great option for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Piedmont home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental online program is the right choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Piedmont area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Piedmont area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Piedmont area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might 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 right school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many Piedmont area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Piedmont dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the Alabama programs you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36272 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Piedmont at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Dental School near Piedmont ALSelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.