How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Florala 36442
Selecting the ideal dental assistant training near Florala AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Florala dental office and can perform a wide range of duties. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Florala dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees 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. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. 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 Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Florala area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Florala home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed 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 furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
When you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Florala area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Florala area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you choose offers 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 work as a hygienist, many Florala area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean all 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, naturally it would not be the right school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most Florala area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Florala dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama schools you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large 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 school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36442 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Florala in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental School near Florala ALEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive 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 nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.