How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Red Bay 35582
Choosing the right dental assistant school near Red Bay AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties 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 common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Red Bay dental office and can undertake a wide range of functions. Their principal job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing 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 differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Red Bay dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly 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 usually 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 also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 in addition to passing 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 Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Red Bay area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Programs
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Red Bay home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an dental online school is the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
After you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Red Bay area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Red Bay area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided 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 confirm that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Red Bay area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep 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 school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of Red Bay area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Red Bay 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges need help landing 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 probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are evaluating 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, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35582 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Red Bay in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Dental Program near Red Bay ALChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. 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 choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.