How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Pleasant Grove 35127
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Pleasant Grove AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, for instance 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 depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 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 longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Pleasant Grove dental office and can undertake a variety 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 working successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many 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 Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Pleasant Grove dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the additional 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 two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Pleasant Grove area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Pleasant Grove home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental program is the best option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Pleasant Grove area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Pleasant Grove area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Pleasant Grove 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 a good 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many Pleasant Grove area dental programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Pleasant Grove dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance 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 expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35127 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Pleasant Grove 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 practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Dental Program near Pleasant Grove ALPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally 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 typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by asking 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.