How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Eight Mile 36613
Picking the right dental assistant program near Eight Mile AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including 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 depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Eight Mile dental office and can undertake a variety of duties. Their primary job description is to furnish assistance 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 earn certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ 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. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Eight Mile dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters 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. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination 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, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Eight Mile area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% 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 comfort of your Eight Mile home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental online program is the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Eight Mile area programs and schools. 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 several online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to reach 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 college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 guarantee that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Eight Mile area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Eight Mile area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school 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, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many Eight Mile 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 select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Eight Mile 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 also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are reviewing 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 broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama schools you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36613 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Eight Mile in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Dental Program near Eight Mile ALChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.