How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Hackleburg 35564
Selecting the right dental assistant program near Hackleburg AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Hackleburg dental office and can carry out a variety of tasks. Their principal job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing 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 consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Hackleburg dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant 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 supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every 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 responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish 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 aspect to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Hackleburg area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Hackleburg home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened 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 needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental program is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Hackleburg area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Hackleburg area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Hackleburg area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many Hackleburg area dental programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Hackleburg 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 also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance landing their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Alabama colleges you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35564 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Hackleburg in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Dental School near Hackleburg ALSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.