How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Munford 36268
Selecting the right dental assistant training near Munford AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Munford dental practice and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many 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 Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Munford dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 licensure 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 Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Munford area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Schools
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a great option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Munford home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an dental online program is the best choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Munford area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Munford area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, most Munford area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good reputation as well as 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most Munford area dental schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose offers adequate 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, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Munford 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Ask the Alabama programs you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36268 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Munford in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental College near Munford ALChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.