How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Coffee Springs 36318
Choosing the right dental assistant school near Coffee Springs AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time 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 typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Coffee Springs dental office and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their primary job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Coffee Springs dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of 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 first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally 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 almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Coffee Springs area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Coffee Springs home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary 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 needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental online college is the best choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Coffee Springs area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Coffee Springs area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Coffee Springs area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of Coffee Springs area dental colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Coffee Springs dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the Alabama programs you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance 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 costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36318 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Coffee Springs in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Ideal Dental School near Coffee Springs ALPicking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.