How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist School near Fultondale Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Fultondale AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, such as 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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Fultondale AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 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 additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fultondale AL dental practices 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a good alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Fultondale AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fultondale AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fultondale AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Fultondale AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to receive 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 establish professional relationships in the Fultondale AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Fultondale AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Fultondale AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fultondale AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Fultondale AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Fultondale Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fultondale Alabama.