How to Pick a Dental Assistant College near Opelika Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental assistant training near Opelika AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Opelika AL dental practice and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their primary job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying 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 mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need 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) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Opelika AL practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching 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 graduate 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 exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Opelika AL dental practices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Assistant Online Training
Choosing an online dental assistant program may be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Opelika AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant Schools
After you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Opelika AL area colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Opelika AL frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited Alabama colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the Alabama college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of Opelika AL dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good 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 hygienist program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental assistant degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental schools have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Opelika AL area school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Opelika AL dental practice. They make it easier for 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 Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Opelika AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the Opelika AL area programs you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Opelika AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near your Opelika AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Why Did You Want to Be a Dental Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Assistant job, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask Dental Assistant prospects is "What drove you to select Assisting as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not merely the private reasons you might have for becoming a Dental Assistant, but additionally what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to Assisting, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare some ideas about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an excellent Dental Assistant and the leading candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Find the Best Dental Assistant School near Opelika AL
Picking the ideal dental assistant program is important if you want 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 training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants generally require roughly one year of study before they enter the job market. When earning a certificate or degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Opelika AL.
Tell Me About Opelika Alabama
Opelika (pronounced /ˌoʊpəˈlaɪkə/ OH-pə-LY-kə) is a city in and the county seat of Lee County in the east central part of the State of Alabama. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area. According to the 2013 Census Estimate, the population of Opelika was 28,635. The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 150,933 which, along with the Columbus, Georgia metropolitan area and Macon County, Alabama, comprises the greater Greater Columbus, Georgia, a region home to 501,649 residents.
The first white settlers in the area now known as Opelika arrived in the late 1830s and established a community called Lebanon. After the removal of the native Creek (Muscogee) peoples by federal troops in 1836-37, the area became known as "Opelika." This word taken from the Muskogee language means "large swamp".
In 1848, the Montgomery and West Point Railroad Company extended a rail line from Montgomery, Alabama, to Opelika, and in 1851, completed a connection to West Point, Georgia, thus connecting Opelika with Atlanta, Georgia. This line was the only direct rail route between New Orleans and the Eastern Seaboard. It rapidly became one of the primary trade lines for shipments of raw cotton from Southern plantations to the North. The Montgomery and West Point was soon joined by a rail connection to Columbus, Georgia, in 1855, and a connection to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1869. Almost overnight, Opelika became a regional hub for commerce.
To manage this rapid growth, Opelika was incorporated as a town on February 9, 1854, then within Russell County. As a result of Opelika's transportation infrastructure, many warehouses for storing cotton and other goods were built. With the onset of the Civil War, these warehouses were converted to Confederate supply depots. In 1864 and 1865, Union raids commanded by Lovell Rousseau and James H. Wilson attacked Opelika, tearing up the railroads and destroying all government property, including Opelika's warehouses.
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