How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene School near Alabaster Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Alabaster AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, including the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Alabaster AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal 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 each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Alabaster AL dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. 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 offered in trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a good option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Alabaster AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Alabaster AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing 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 ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Alabaster AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential 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. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Alabaster AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Alabaster AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Alabaster AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Alabaster AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Alabaster AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Alabaster AL at nights 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 procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Alabaster Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Alabaster Alabama.