How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Mount Olive 35117
Picking the ideal dental assistant program near Mount Olive AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Mount Olive dental practice and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working 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 decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Mount Olive dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 as well as any state licensing exams. 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 offered at Alabama community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Mount Olive area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Schools
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Mount Olive home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that attending an online dental college is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Mount Olive area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best 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 certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Mount Olive area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, many Mount Olive area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an excellent 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most Mount Olive area dental programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Mount Olive dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the Alabama schools you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35117 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Mount Olive in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Select the Right Dental College near Mount Olive ALPicking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. 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 obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.