How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Theodore 36582
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Theodore AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Theodore dental practice and can undertake a variety of duties. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Theodore dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, 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 a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 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 also. A number of programs also offer internships with Theodore area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Programs
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a good option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Theodore home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
Once you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you want to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Theodore area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important 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 condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Theodore area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Theodore area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced 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 all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of Theodore area dental schools have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Theodore 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 also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alabama schools you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36582 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Theodore at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Dental College near Theodore ALEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.