How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Centre 35960
Picking the right dental assistant program near Centre AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually 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 cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Centre dental office and can carry out a multitude of tasks. Their primary job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling 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 regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Centre dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier 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 usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. When 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 Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive 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 practices are often 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 almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Centre area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Centre home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental online school is the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
After you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Centre area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs 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 final selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Centre area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? 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’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, many Centre area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep 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 college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of Centre area dental schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Centre dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs require help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama programs you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35960 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Centre in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Dental School near Centre ALSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.