How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Sumiton 35148
Picking the ideal dental assistant school near Sumiton AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as 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 money and time 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 typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Sumiton dental office and can perform a myriad of functions. Their fundamental job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Sumiton dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably 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 encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every 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 may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education 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 ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, 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 hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Sumiton area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Sumiton home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental college is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Sumiton area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Sumiton area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Sumiton area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent 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 best school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many Sumiton area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential 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, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Sumiton dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance landing their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance 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 refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35148 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 must attend classes near Sumiton in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required 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 Right Dental Program near Sumiton ALEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.