How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Elkmont 35620
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Elkmont AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, for instance the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Elkmont dental office and can perform a multitude of duties. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying 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 deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many 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 a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Elkmont dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists 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 usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about 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 as well as any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to have 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 almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Elkmont area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Elkmont home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental online program is the right option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Elkmont area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Elkmont area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices 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 Elkmont area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one 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 just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many Elkmont area dental schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select offers sufficient 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 enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Elkmont dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching 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 large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the Alabama schools you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs 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 analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35620 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Elkmont at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Dental School near Elkmont ALPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to acquire your training 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 community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.