How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Pelham 35124
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Pelham AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. 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 money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Pelham dental office and can perform a myriad of functions. Their primary job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. 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, for instance periodontics. However most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering 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 regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Pelham dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 licensure examinations. 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 Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Pelham area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Colleges
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a great alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program 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 desktop computer in the comfort of your Pelham home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical 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 obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online college is the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
When you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can start the process of comparing Pelham area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alabama programs you are reviewing in order to reach 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 ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Pelham area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the school you select has 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 work as a hygienist, most Pelham area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most Pelham area dental colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Pelham dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher 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 the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alabama schools you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 35124 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Pelham at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Program near Pelham ALPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to receive 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.