How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Cloverdale 35617
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Cloverdale AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Cloverdale dental practice and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their primary job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need 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
When comparing the job of a Cloverdale dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Cloverdale area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a viable alternative for receiving your education. 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 Cloverdale home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the ideal option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Cloverdale area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Cloverdale area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the school you choose has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Cloverdale area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Cloverdale area dental colleges have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Cloverdale dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama schools you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35617 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Cloverdale in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, 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 have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Dental Program near Cloverdale ALSelecting 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 you now know, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.