How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Prattville 36066
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Prattville AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, 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 cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Prattville dental practice and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying 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 regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have 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 Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Prattville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of 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 Prattville area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school might be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Prattville home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental online school is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Prattville area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify 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 training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Prattville 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, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many Prattville area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most Prattville area dental schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Prattville dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement 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 broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as 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 substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36066 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Prattville in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Select the Best Dental School near Prattville ALSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend 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 better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.