How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Bynum 36253
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Bynum AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Bynum dental practice and can perform a wide range of duties. Their fundamental job description is to give 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 earn certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- 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 differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many 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 Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Bynum dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, 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 interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure 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 and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Bynum area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Bynum home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online college is the best option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Bynum area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Bynum area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, a large number of Bynum area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college 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 strong 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, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of Bynum area dental programs have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Bynum dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need help obtaining their first job. Check if the programs 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 in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Alabama colleges you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36253 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Bynum in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Find the Best Dental School near Bynum ALChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.