How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Columbia 36319
Picking the ideal dental assistant school near Columbia AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to consider also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental 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 available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Columbia dental office and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving 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 differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Columbia dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier 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 a one-to-one basis. They are typically 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 carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Columbia area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a good option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Columbia home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental program is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Columbia area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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. Columbia area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college 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. In order to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Columbia area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 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 school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many Columbia area dental schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Columbia 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching have job assistance 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 refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting 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. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36319 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Columbia at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Find the Ideal Dental School near Columbia ALChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.