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Search For Dental Hygienist Training | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Alexander City AL 35010

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Alexander City 35010

dental assistant training in Alexander City ALSelecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Alexander City AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the program’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 be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Job of Dental Assistants

Alexander City dental assistant helping dentist 35010Dental assistants are an essential part of any Alexander City dental practice and can perform a multitude of duties. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:

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

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Alexander City dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the job of a Alexander City dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work 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 teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • 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 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 examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed 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 offered at Alabama community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally 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 almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Alexander City area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Colleges

attending dental assistant school online in Alexander City homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Alexander City 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 offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 35010When you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Alexander City area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Alabama colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order 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. Alexander City area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Alexander City area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation as well as 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 could 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 right school for you.

Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most Alexander City area dental schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Alexander City 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 too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges 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 employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama schools you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35010 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Alexander City in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.

Find the Right Dental College near Alexander City AL

Choosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course 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 alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. 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 appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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