Top Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Sawyerville AL 36776

How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Sawyerville 36776

dental assistant training in Sawyerville ALChoosing the right dental assistant school near Sawyerville AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

Sawyerville dental assistant helping dentist 36776Dental assistants are an important component of any Sawyerville dental office and can perform 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 efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Purchasing office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling 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) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of Dental Hygienists

Sawyerville dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the duties of a Sawyerville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, 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 often the first person a patient sees 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 duties can include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Teaching patients about oral care
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

To qualify for licensing 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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. After 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 Education Options

Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Sawyerville area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Sawyerville homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Sawyerville home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the right option for you.

Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 36776Once you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Sawyerville area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Sawyerville area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Sawyerville 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 a good reputation and 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most Sawyerville area dental programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Sawyerville 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 Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools require help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36776 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Sawyerville in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

Select the Ideal Dental College near Sawyerville AL

Selecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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