How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist School near Fairhope Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Fairhope AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, for instance the college's accreditation and reputation. 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 accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors 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 explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Fairhope 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 every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Fairhope AL dental practices are normally required to hold 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 almost 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Fairhope AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairhope AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairhope AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Fairhope AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fairhope AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere 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 Fairhope AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fairhope AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify 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 have to go to classes near Fairhope AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Fairhope Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning 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 presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama.