How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Auburn Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Auburn AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, including the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Auburn AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Auburn AL dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Auburn AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Auburn AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing 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 final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Auburn AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Auburn AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at 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 Auburn AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Auburn AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Auburn AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Auburn AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Auburn Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Auburn Alabama.