How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene College near Fairfield Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Fairfield AL is an essential first step toward beginning 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 doing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, including the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Fairfield AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings 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
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fairfield AL dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Fairfield AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required 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 college is the right choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairfield AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairfield AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Fairfield AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the Fairfield AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Fairfield AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Check with the schools you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Fairfield AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private 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 include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fairfield AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Fairfield AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Fairfield Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairfield Alabama.