How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Arlington 36722
Choosing the ideal dental assistant school near Arlington AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover 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 roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Arlington dental practice and can undertake a multitude of duties. Their principal job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Arlington dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees 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 plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating 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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Arlington area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Arlington home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental office 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 school is the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
When you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to earn, you can start the process of comparing Arlington area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to make 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 right dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Arlington area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Arlington area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good reputation as well as 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most Arlington area dental schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Arlington dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36722 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Arlington at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Select the Right Dental College near Arlington ALPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.