How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Logan 35098
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Logan AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. 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 usually takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Logan dental office and can undertake a myriad of duties. Their main job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification 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 most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Logan 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 in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally required to hold 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Logan area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a good option for getting your education. 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 provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Logan home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an dental online school is the best option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Logan area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify 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 training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Logan area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually 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 sure that the college 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 have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Logan area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many Logan area dental colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college 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, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Logan dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop 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 colleges need help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the Alabama programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college 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 Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35098 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Logan in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Dental School near Logan ALEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain 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 about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.