Top Dental Hygienist Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Somerville AL 35670

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Somerville 35670

dental assistant training in Somerville ALPicking the right dental assistant training near Somerville AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, 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 discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

Somerville dental assistant helping dentist 35670Dental assistants are an important part of any Somerville dental office and can carry out a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of Dental Hygienists

Somerville dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen contrasting the job of a Somerville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work 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 teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Instructing patients regarding oral care
  • 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 as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive 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 employed in dental practices are usually required to hold 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Somerville area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Colleges

attending dental assistant school online in Somerville homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a viable option for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Somerville home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best choice for you.

Points to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 35670After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Somerville area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify 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 training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Somerville area employers often 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 available for non-accredited schools.

Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Somerville area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school 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, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many Somerville area dental schools have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Somerville dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs require help landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs 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 position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can 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 so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35670 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Somerville at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.

Find the Ideal Dental Program near Somerville AL

Selecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically 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 typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to 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 right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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