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Top Dental Hygienist Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Elmore AL 36025

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Elmore 36025

dental assistant training in Elmore ALSelecting the right dental hygienist college near Elmore AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, 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 money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year 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 accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Role of a Dental Assistant

Elmore dental assistant helping dentist 36025Dental assistants are an essential part of any Elmore dental practice and can undertake a variety of duties. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, including:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Prepping 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
  • Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing 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 most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Elmore dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen contrasting the role of a Elmore dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, 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 an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. 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 duties can include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Instructing patients about oral hygiene
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled 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 provided at Alabama community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 also. Many programs also offer internships with Elmore area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Elmore homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a good option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Elmore home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental college is the right choice for you.

Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 36025After you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Elmore area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program 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. Elmore area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.

Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, many Elmore area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and 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 right college for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most Elmore area dental programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Elmore dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask 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 refer their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial 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 examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36025 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Elmore in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Pick the Ideal Dental School near Elmore AL

Choosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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