How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Palmerdale 35123
Picking the right dental assistant training near Palmerdale AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional 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 assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Palmerdale dental practice and can undertake a myriad of tasks. Their principal job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Alabama dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping 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 handling X-rays
- Purchasing 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 mandates. 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 opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Palmerdale dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After 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 and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Palmerdale area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Palmerdale home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to attain, you can start the process of comparing Palmerdale area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabama colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Palmerdale area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Palmerdale area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid 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, clearly it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most Palmerdale area dental programs have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Palmerdale 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 look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the Alabama colleges you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35123 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Palmerdale in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Ideal Dental School near Palmerdale ALSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend 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 in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.