How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Ashford 36312
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Ashford AL is an important initial 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 much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as 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 time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Ashford dental practice and can carry out a myriad of duties. Their primary job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide 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 Ashford 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 dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters 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 responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about 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 as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. 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 require 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. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Ashford area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant college may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Ashford home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental online school is the best choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Ashford area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Alabama programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Ashford area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Ashford area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school 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 strong 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 best college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many Ashford area dental programs have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Ashford dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges require help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the Alabama programs you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36312 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Ashford in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Dental School near Ashford ALPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to acquire your education 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 junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.