How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Anniston 36201
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Anniston AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Anniston dental practice and can carry out a variety of tasks. Their principal job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing 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 deviate 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. 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 Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Anniston dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Anniston area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school might be a good option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Anniston home or elsewhere 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 charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental program is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
When you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Anniston area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Anniston area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Anniston area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an excellent 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most Anniston area dental schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want 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 a regional dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Anniston dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the Alabama schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs 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 analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36201 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Anniston at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Dental College near Anniston ALChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.