How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Jacksonville 36265
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Jacksonville AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, for instance the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Jacksonville dental practice and can perform a wide range of functions. Their main job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Jacksonville dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Jacksonville area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant college may be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Jacksonville home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical 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 proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental college is the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Jacksonville area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Jacksonville area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, most Jacksonville area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many Jacksonville area dental schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college 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, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Jacksonville 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 also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the Alabama programs you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36265 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Jacksonville in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Dental College near Jacksonville ALSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount 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 generally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.