How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Garden City 35070
Selecting the right dental assistant school near Garden City AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. 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 commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically 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 concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Garden City dental office and can carry out a multitude of duties. Their principal job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. 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 contrasting the duties of a Garden City dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, 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 usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 as well as any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are normally 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 almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Garden City area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a good option for getting your education. Just remember 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 provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Garden City home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an dental online college is the right option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Garden City area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Garden City area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you choose 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 work as a hygienist, a large number of Garden City 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 college has a good 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 might 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 best school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many Garden City area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Garden City 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 Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 examining the cost of schools, 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 find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35070 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Garden City 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 policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Select the Best Dental Program near Garden City ALPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered 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 education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.