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Top Dental Hygienist Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Locust Fork AL 35097

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Locust Fork 35097

dental assistant training in Locust Fork ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Locust Fork AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first 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 usually takes about 1 year to complete 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 lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Locust Fork dental assistant helping dentist 35097Dental assistants are an integral part of any Locust Fork dental office and can undertake a myriad of functions. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, including:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Purchasing office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Locust Fork dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen contrasting the role of a Locust Fork dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may 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
  • Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • 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 licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 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 assisting courses. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices 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 complete 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 pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Locust Fork area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Colleges

attending dental assistant school online in Locust Fork homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Locust Fork home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental online program is the right choice for you.

Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 35097Once you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Locust Fork area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Locust Fork area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you select offers the program that you want. 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 Locust Fork area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear 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 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, clearly it would not be the best school for you.

Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of Locust Fork area dental schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Locust Fork 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 look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35097 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Locust Fork in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Dental School near Locust Fork AL

Picking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools 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 normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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