How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Gainestown 36540
Picking the right dental hygienist training near Gainestown AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the program’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 time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Gainestown dental office and can perform a wide range of duties. Their principal job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental 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 need to be certified and licensed. Many 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Gainestown dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about 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 graduate 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 licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to have 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 trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Gainestown area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Schools
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Gainestown home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting 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 online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the best option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Gainestown area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Gainestown area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered 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 confirm that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Gainestown area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many Gainestown area dental colleges have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Gainestown dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Check with the Alabama programs you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36540 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Gainestown at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have 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.
Select the Right Dental Program near Gainestown ALPicking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 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 credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.