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Top Dental Hygienist Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Oxford AL 72565

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Oxford 72565

dental assistant training in Oxford ALPicking the ideal dental hygienist training near Oxford AL is an essential first step toward starting 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 choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.

The Job of Dental Assistants

Oxford dental assistant helping dentist 72565Dental assistants are an important part of any Oxford dental office and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their primary job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, such as:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing office and dental supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult 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 choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Oxford dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the duties of a Oxford dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report 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
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Educating patients about oral care
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

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 Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Oxford area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Oxford homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Oxford home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the right choice for you.

What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 72565When you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Oxford area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oxford area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, many Oxford area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep 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 solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right school for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many Oxford area dental schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Oxford dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 72565 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Oxford in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Ideal Dental School near Oxford AL

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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