How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Tuscumbia 35674
Choosing the right dental assistant college near Tuscumbia AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must 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 college that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically 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 issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Tuscumbia dental office and can carry out a wide range of tasks. Their primary job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Tuscumbia dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. After 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 available at Alabama community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to have 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 almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Tuscumbia area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school 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 portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Tuscumbia home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Tuscumbia area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order 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 of the highest quality and comprehensive. Tuscumbia area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Tuscumbia area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most Tuscumbia area dental programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Tuscumbia dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges 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 Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama schools you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35674 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Tuscumbia at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Dental Program near Tuscumbia ALPicking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually 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 normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.