How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Calera 35040
Picking the right dental hygienist training near Calera AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Calera dental practice and can undertake a wide range of functions. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. 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 role of a Calera dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, 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 often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending 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 and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. 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 additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices 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 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 also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Calera area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Calera home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental program is the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the process of comparing Calera area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Calera 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, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Calera area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of Calera area dental programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Calera dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need help getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the Alabama programs you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35040 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Calera at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Dental Program near Calera ALEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally obtain 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 about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing 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 asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.