How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Notasulga 36866
Selecting the ideal dental assistant program near Notasulga AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 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 should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Notasulga dental practice and can undertake a wide range of tasks. Their main job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing 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. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Notasulga dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists 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 typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Notasulga area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Notasulga home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental online program is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Notasulga area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college 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. Notasulga area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can choose 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 choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, many Notasulga 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 school 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 strong accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many Notasulga area dental programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Notasulga 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools 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 Smaller? Check with the Alabama schools you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college 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 Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 36866 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Notasulga at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Dental School near Notasulga ALPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. 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 earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.