How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Bessemer 35020
Selecting the right dental assistant training near Bessemer AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial 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 common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Bessemer dental practice and can undertake a wide range of tasks. Their primary job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Bessemer dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a 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 classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to hold 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Bessemer area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Bessemer home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
After you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Bessemer area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Bessemer area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you choose has 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 have a career as a hygienist, most Bessemer area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most Bessemer area dental schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Bessemer dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the Alabama schools you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35020 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Bessemer at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Dental Program near Bessemer ALPicking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.