How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Franklin 36444
Picking the ideal dental assistant program near Franklin AL is an important initial step toward starting 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 performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, including the program’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 depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Franklin dental practice and can perform a multitude of tasks. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Franklin dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably 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 supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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 Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled 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 Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, 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 working in dental offices are usually 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Franklin area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a viable option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Franklin home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that attending an online dental school is the best choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Franklin area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several 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 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 School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Franklin area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
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 offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, many Franklin area dental practices 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 a good reputation as well as 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of Franklin area dental schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical 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 ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Franklin 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges 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 position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the Alabama colleges you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36444 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Franklin at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Select the Right Dental School near Franklin ALSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided 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.