How to Find the Right Dental Assistant School near Montgomery Alabama
Picking the right dental assistant school near Montgomery AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first 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 complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss 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 explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Montgomery 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. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many 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 Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Montgomery AL practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- 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 as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Montgomery AL dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three 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 interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Assistant Schools
Choosing an online dental assistant school might be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Montgomery AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant Schools
After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Montgomery AL area schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program 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. Employers in Montgomery AL frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited Alabama programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the Alabama college you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, most Montgomery AL dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has a good reputation as well as 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are only interested in a dental assistant degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Montgomery AL area program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Montgomery AL dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant programs need assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Montgomery AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the Montgomery AL area colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Montgomery AL.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near your Montgomery AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Why Did You Want to Become a Dental Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Assistant position, it's a good idea to review questions you might be asked. One of the things that interviewers frequently ask Dental Assisting candidates is "What drove you to select Assisting as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Dental Assistant, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to Assisting, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you need to organize several approaches about how you would like to answer them. Since there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional Dental Assistant and the best candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down some ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
Select the Ideal Dental Assistant School near Montgomery AL
Picking the ideal dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require approximately 1 year of study prior to entering the job market. When earning a certificate or degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Montgomery AL.
Tell Me About Montgomery Alabama
Montgomery is the capital city of the U.S. state of Alabama and the county seat of Montgomery County. Named for Richard Montgomery, it stands beside the Alabama River, on the coastal Plain of the Gulf is Mexico. In the 2010 Census, Montgomery's population was 212,237. It is the second most populous city in Alabama, after Birmingham, and is the 115th most populous in the United States. The Montgomery Metropolitan Statistical Area's population in 2010 was estimated at 374,536; it is the fourth largest in the state and 136th among United States metropolitan areas.
The city was incorporated in 1819 as a merger of two towns situated along the Alabama River. It became the state capital in 1846, representing the shift of power to the south-central area of Alabama with the growth of cotton as a commodity crop of the Black Belt and the rise of Mobile as a mercantile port on the Gulf Coast. In February 1861, Montgomery was chosen the first capital of the Confederate States of America, which it remained until the Confederate seat of government moved to Richmond, Virginia, in May of that year. In the middle of the 20th century, Montgomery was a major center of events and protests in the Civil Rights Movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Selma to Montgomery marches.
In addition to housing many Alabama government agencies, Montgomery has a large military presence, due to Maxwell Air Force Base; public universities Alabama State University, Troy University (Montgomery campus), and Auburn University at Montgomery; two private post-secondary institutions, Faulkner University and Huntingdon College; high-tech manufacturing, including Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama; and many cultural attractions, such as the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
Montgomery has won several national awards: Best Historic City, by USA Today; All-America City in 2014, by the National Civic League; Top City for Job Growth in 2014, by ziprecruiter.com; and Happiest City in Alabama [according to whom?]. Montgomery has also been recognized nationally for its downtown revitalization and new urbanism projects. It was one of the first cities in the nation to implement Smart Code Zoning.
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