Accredited Dental Hygienist Colleges | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Selma AL 36701

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Selma 36701

dental assistant training in Selma ALPicking the ideal dental hygienist program near Selma AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Function of a Dental Assistant

Selma dental assistant helping dentist 36701Dental assistants are an integral part of any Selma dental practice and can perform a multitude of duties. Their principal job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, including:

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

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. 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 a Dental Hygienist

Selma dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the role of a Selma dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once 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 offered at Alabama junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Selma area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Selma homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a good option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Selma home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the ideal choice for you.

What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 36701When you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to attain, you can start the process of comparing Selma area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Selma area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many Selma area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.

Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many Selma area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential 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. 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 focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Selma dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Alabama programs you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36701 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Selma in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have 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 due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Dental Program near Selma AL

Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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