How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Fairhope Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Fairhope AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues 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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Fairhope AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed 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 in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fairhope AL dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Fairhope AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairhope AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied 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 Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fairhope AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Fairhope AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fairhope AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Fairhope AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fairhope AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Fairhope AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Fairhope Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two 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 choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama.