How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Courtland 35618
Selecting the right dental assistant college near Courtland AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Courtland dental office and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. 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 Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Courtland dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier 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 an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 licensing examinations. When 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 Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed 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 almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Courtland area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a viable alternative for receiving 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 remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Courtland home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online college is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Courtland area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Courtland area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Courtland area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school has a good reputation as well as 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 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 right college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most Courtland area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Courtland dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Alabama schools you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial 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 examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35618 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Courtland in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Dental Program near Courtland ALChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide 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 begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.