How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Program near Fairfield Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Fairfield AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to consider also, for instance 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 complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Fairfield AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fairfield AL dental offices are usually 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available 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 school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical 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 appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
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, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fairfield AL dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. A number of 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 select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Fairfield AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical 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 build professional relationships in the Fairfield AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Find out 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 Fairfield AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Fairfield AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fairfield AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Fairfield AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Fairfield Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairfield Alabama.