Top Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Stapleton AL 36578

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Stapleton 36578

dental assistant training in Stapleton ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Stapleton AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Job of a Dental Assistant

Stapleton dental assistant helping dentist 36578Dental assistants are an important part of any Stapleton dental office and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, such as:

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

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. A large number of 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 Function of Dental Hygienists

Stapleton dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen contrasting the job of a Stapleton dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out 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 hygiene
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • 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 considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Stapleton area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Stapleton homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind 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 personal computer in the comfort of your Stapleton home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened 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 needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the right option for you.

Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 36578After you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Stapleton area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Stapleton area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Stapleton area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation and 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best 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 also. Many Stapleton area dental programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Stapleton dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching 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 community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Alabama colleges you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36578 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Stapleton in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose 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 illness, work or family responsibilities.

Select the Right Dental Program near Stapleton AL

Selecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal training 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 as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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