How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Grand Bay 36541
Selecting the right dental assistant college near Grand Bay AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Grand Bay dental practice and can carry out a variety of functions. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. However most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Setting and verifying 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
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Grand Bay dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of 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 typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost 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 as well as any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to hold 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Grand Bay area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Grand Bay home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an online dental college is the ideal option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
When you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Grand Bay area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Grand Bay area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. 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 opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you select has 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 earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Grand Bay area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an exceptional 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 just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many Grand Bay area dental schools have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Grand Bay dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience 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 schools can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance 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 schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36541 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Grand Bay in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Dental College near Grand Bay ALChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.