How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Hayden 35079
Picking the right dental assistant program near Hayden AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Hayden dental practice and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their principal job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing 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 policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Hayden dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Hayden area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Hayden home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental program is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Hayden area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, 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 instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Hayden area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you select offers 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 earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Hayden area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 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 college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most Hayden area dental programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in offers sufficient 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, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Hayden dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the Alabama colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether 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 examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35079 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Hayden at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Find the Ideal Dental School near Hayden ALSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to obtain 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.