How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Hartford 36344
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Hartford AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Hartford dental practice and can perform a myriad of tasks. Their main job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- 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
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Hartford dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed 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 available at Alabama junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Hartford area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Hartford home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online college is the best choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
When you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Hartford area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at 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 ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify 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 instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Hartford area employers often desire 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 programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Hartford 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 college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of Hartford area dental schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Hartford dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the Alabama colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36344 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Hartford in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Find the Right Dental School near Hartford ALSelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.