How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Atmore 36502
Picking the right dental assistant program near Atmore AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Atmore dental office and can perform a multitude of duties. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. However most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing 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 more than 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) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Atmore dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously 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 an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. 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 Atmore area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Atmore home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
When you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Atmore area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify 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. Atmore 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, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Atmore area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many Atmore area dental colleges have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an 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 office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Atmore dental practice. They help 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 Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job assistance 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 extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the Alabama programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36502 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Atmore in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Dental Program near Atmore ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect 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 right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.