How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Lisman 36912
Selecting the ideal dental assistant program near Lisman AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically 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 concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Lisman dental office and can perform a multitude of functions. Their fundamental job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Lisman dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. 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 often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform 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
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to hold 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Lisman area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Lisman home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Lisman area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Lisman area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, most Lisman area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school 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 strong accredited dental assistant program, but might 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 school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? 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 Lisman area dental programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Lisman dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the Alabama schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36912 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Lisman in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Ideal Dental School near Lisman ALPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.