How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Robertsdale 36567
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Robertsdale AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Robertsdale dental office and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their main job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing 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 more than 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Robertsdale dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably 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, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are usually required to hold 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 almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Robertsdale area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Training Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a great option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Robertsdale home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Robertsdale area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Robertsdale area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you choose 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, most Robertsdale area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college 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, obviously it would not be the best college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of Robertsdale area dental schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Robertsdale 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 too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alabama programs you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36567 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Robertsdale in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Dental College near Robertsdale ALSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.