How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Saraland 36571
Choosing the right dental assistant program near Saraland AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, for instance the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Saraland dental office and can perform a wide range of functions. Their principal job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Saraland dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, 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 frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to hold 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 almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Saraland area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Saraland home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental online school is the right choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Saraland area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify 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 get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Saraland area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Saraland area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most Saraland area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Saraland dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama programs you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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 colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36571 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Saraland in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Ideal Dental School near Saraland ALPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. 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 appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.