How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Evergreen 36401
Choosing the right dental assistant training near Evergreen AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account as well, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Evergreen dental practice and can carry out a multitude of functions. Their main job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing 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 most likely will have 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 offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Evergreen dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists 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 typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Evergreen area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Evergreen home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Evergreen area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Evergreen area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Evergreen area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation and 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 could 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 ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many Evergreen area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Evergreen dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering 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 community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the Alabama schools you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36401 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Evergreen at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Dental Program near Evergreen ALSelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools 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 typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.