How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant School near Huntsville Alabama
Picking the ideal dental assistant college near Huntsville 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 selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account as well, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Huntsville AL dental office and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. However most assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role 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 practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Huntsville AL 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 room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alabama junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Huntsville AL dental practices are often required to hold 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in Alabama trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Assistant Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental assistant school might be a good alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Huntsville AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant Colleges
After you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Huntsville AL area programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Huntsville AL frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited Alabama schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the Alabama college you decide on has 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. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Huntsville AL 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 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are just interested in a dental assistant 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 every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Huntsville AL area school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Huntsville AL 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 are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant programs need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Huntsville AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Huntsville AL area programs you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs 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, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Huntsville AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near your Huntsville AL home at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Dental Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Dental Assisting job, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask Dental Assistant candidates is "What compelled you to choose Assisting as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a Dental Assistant, but also what characteristics and talents you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to Assisting, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you must prepare some strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an excellent Dental Assistant and the ideal choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Assistant College near Huntsville AL
Picking the ideal dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA exam 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 a dental assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants generally require roughly one year of study prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Huntsville AL.
Tell Me About Huntsville Alabama
Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County and south into Morgan County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 census. Huntsville is the third-largest city in Alabama and the largest city in the five-county Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, AL Combined Statistical Area, which at the 2013 census estimate had a total population of 683,871. The Huntsville Metropolitan Area's population was 417,593 in 2010 to become the 2nd largest in Alabama. Huntsville metro's population reached 441,000 by 2014.
It grew across nearby hills north of the Tennessee River, adding textile mills, then munitions factories, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command nearby at the Redstone Arsenal. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Huntsville to its "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010" list.
The first settlers of the area were Muscogee-speaking people. The Chickasaw traditionally claim to have settled around 1300 after coming east across the Mississippi. A combination of factors, including depopulation due to disease, land disputes between the Choctaw and Cherokee, and pressures from the United States government had largely depopulated the area prior to 1805. That year Revolutionary War veteran John Hunt settled in the land around the Big Spring. The 1805 Treaty with the Chickasaws and the Cherokee Treaty of Washington of 1806 ceded native claims to the United States Government. The area was subsequently purchased by LeRoy Pope, who named the area Twickenham after the home village of his distant kinsman Alexander Pope.
Twickenham was carefully planned, with streets laid out on the northeast to southwest direction based on the flow of Big Spring. However, due to anti-British sentiment during this period, the name was changed to "Huntsville" to honor John Hunt, who had been forced to move to other land south of the new city.
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