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Top Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Boaz AL 35956

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Boaz 35956

dental assistant training in Boaz ALChoosing the right dental hygienist college near Boaz AL is an essential first 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 picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, for instance the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Boaz dental assistant helping dentist 35956Dental assistants are an integral component of any Boaz dental office and can perform a multitude of functions. Their primary job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, including:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling 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 offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Boaz dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the role of a Boaz dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest 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 assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings 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
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Teaching 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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Boaz area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Boaz homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind 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 convenience of your Boaz home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental school is the right choice for you.

Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 35956Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Boaz area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Boaz area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Boaz area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional 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 Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of Boaz area dental schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential 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 are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Boaz dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Small? Ask the Alabama schools you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35956 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Boaz at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.

Pick the Ideal Dental Program near Boaz AL

Choosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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