How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Toney 35773
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Toney AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish 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 accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Toney dental practice and can perform a wide range of duties. Their fundamental job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Toney dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Toney area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Toney home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Toney area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Toney area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school 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, most Toney area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of Toney area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Toney dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Alabama programs you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can 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 most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example 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 costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35773 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Toney at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Ideal Dental School near Toney ALChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.