How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Childersburg 35044
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Childersburg AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance 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 depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Childersburg dental practice and can carry out a multitude of functions. Their main job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Childersburg dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally required to have 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Childersburg area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Childersburg home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental online program is the best option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
When you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Childersburg area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should 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 help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Childersburg area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, many Childersburg 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 college has an excellent 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many Childersburg area dental schools have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Childersburg dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35044 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Childersburg at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Dental School near Childersburg ALPicking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree 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 provided 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 assistant or hygienist.