How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Natural Bridge 35577
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Natural Bridge AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools 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 essential component of any Natural Bridge dental practice and can undertake a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of 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 job of a Natural Bridge dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed 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 junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the additional 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 almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Natural Bridge area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Natural Bridge home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental college is the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
When you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Natural Bridge area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama programs 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 evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition 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 establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Natural Bridge area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Natural Bridge area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college has a good 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most Natural Bridge area dental programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Natural Bridge dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alabama schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can 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 witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35577 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Natural Bridge at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose 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 need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Dental Program near Natural Bridge ALChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to acquire your training 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 community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.