How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Madison 35756
Choosing the right dental assistant training near Madison AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. 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 have to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, 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 factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing 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 a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Madison dental practice and can undertake a multitude of duties. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Madison dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Madison area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Madison home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional 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 required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an dental online college is the best choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
When you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to attain, you can start the process of comparing Madison area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning 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 college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Madison area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many Madison area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most Madison area dental schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Madison 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 look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the Alabama colleges you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask 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 instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35756 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm 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 Madison in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Ideal Dental College near Madison ALPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to 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 in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.