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Accredited Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Clay AL 35048

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Clay 35048

dental assistant training in Clay ALChoosing the right dental hygienist college near Clay AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Clay dental assistant helping dentist 35048Dental assistants are an important component of any Clay dental office and can perform a wide range of functions. Their principal job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Clay dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the role of a Clay dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, 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 usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with Clay area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Training

attending dental assistant school online in Clay homeSelecting an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Clay home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental online program is the best option for you.

Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 35048After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Clay area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Clay area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Clay area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many Clay area dental colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Clay dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama programs you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, 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 costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35048 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Clay at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Pick the Right Dental School near Clay AL

Enrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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