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Accredited Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Laceys Spring AL 35754

How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Laceys Spring 35754

dental assistant training in Laceys Spring ALChoosing the ideal dental assistant college near Laceys Spring AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually 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 discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Job of a Dental Assistant

Laceys Spring dental assistant helping dentist 35754Dental assistants are an essential component of any Laceys Spring dental office and can undertake a myriad of functions. Their primary job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are asked to complete, for example:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Purchasing office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary 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 licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Laceys Spring dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the duties of a Laceys Spring dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often 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 may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching patients about oral hygiene
  • 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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish 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 interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Laceys Spring area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Laceys Spring homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a good alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Laceys Spring home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental school is the right option for you.

Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 35754Once you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Laceys Spring area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should 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 evaluation and final selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Laceys Spring area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of Laceys Spring area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college has a good 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 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 Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many Laceys Spring area dental colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Laceys Spring dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools require assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching 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 profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the Alabama programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35754 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Laceys Spring in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, 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 need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Select the Right Dental School near Laceys Spring AL

Selecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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