How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Cook Springs 35052
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Cook Springs AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore 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 roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Cook Springs dental office and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their main job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any task 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
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Cook Springs dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as 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 offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices 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 complete 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 hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Cook Springs area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Cook Springs home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the proper 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 best choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Cook Springs area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Cook Springs area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide 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 options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Cook Springs area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of Cook Springs area dental programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Cook Springs dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alabama schools you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35052 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Cook Springs at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required 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 because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Dental Program near Cook Springs ALSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.