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Top Dental Assistant Colleges | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Lockhart AL 36455

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Lockhart 36455

dental assistant training in Lockhart ALSelecting the ideal dental assistant college near Lockhart AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as 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 depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.

The Role of Dental Assistants

Lockhart dental assistant helping dentist 36455Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Lockhart dental practice and can carry out a myriad of tasks. Their principal job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. However most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Giving 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 vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of 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 a Dental Hygienist

Lockhart dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the role of a Lockhart dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, 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 frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching 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 graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Lockhart area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Training

attending dental assistant school online in Lockhart homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Lockhart home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the best choice for you.

What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 36455Once you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Lockhart area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at 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 right dental program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lockhart area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Lockhart area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation and 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of Lockhart area dental programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Lockhart dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alabama schools you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, 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 costs 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 comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 36455 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Lockhart at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical 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 responsibilities.

Choose the Right Dental College near Lockhart AL

Selecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive 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 approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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