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Top Dental Hygienist Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Fairhope AL 36532

How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Fairhope 36532

dental assistant training in Fairhope ALPicking the right dental hygienist training near Fairhope AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account as well, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Fairhope dental assistant helping dentist 36532Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Fairhope dental office and can undertake a multitude of duties. Their main job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, such as:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most 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) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Fairhope dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen contrasting the role of a Fairhope dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, 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 an individual 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 report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

To qualify for licensing in almost 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 licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to hold 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 almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing 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 Fairhope area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Fairhope homeSelecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Fairhope home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental online college is the best choice for you.

Questions to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 36532After you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Fairhope area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairhope area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.

Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Fairhope area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if 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 college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could 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 best college for you.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of Fairhope area dental schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you choose offers adequate 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, confirm that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Fairhope dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance landing their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36532 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Fairhope in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Pick the Ideal Dental School near Fairhope AL

Choosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn 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 job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend 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 better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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