How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Athens 35611
Selecting the right dental assistant college near Athens AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete 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 lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Athens dental office and can carry out a multitude of duties. Their main job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most 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 Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Athens dental hygienist to that of an assistant, 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, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Athens area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Schools
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind 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 available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Athens home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that attending an online dental program is the right choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
When you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Athens area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Alabama programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Athens area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm 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. In order to work as a hygienist, most Athens area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many Athens area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Athens dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the Alabama colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35611 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Athens at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical 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.
Select the Ideal Dental College near Athens ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.