How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Nanafalia 36764
Selecting the right dental assistant program near Nanafalia AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial 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 time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Nanafalia dental office and can carry out a myriad of tasks. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing 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 mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Nanafalia dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. 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 an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices 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 trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Nanafalia area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant college may be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Nanafalia home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an dental online school is the right choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
Once you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Nanafalia area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Nanafalia area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Nanafalia 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 an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid 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 ideal college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many Nanafalia area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose 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 school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Nanafalia dental practice. They help 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 too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges require assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges 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 place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the Alabama programs you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few 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 Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36764 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Nanafalia at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Dental Program near Nanafalia ALSelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. 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 best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.