How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene School near Huntsville Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Huntsville AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover 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 explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Huntsville AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Huntsville AL dental offices are usually 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Huntsville AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice 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 mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Huntsville AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going 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 instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Huntsville AL dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Huntsville AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical 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 form professional relationships in the Huntsville AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Huntsville AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Huntsville AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate 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 if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Huntsville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Huntsville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Huntsville Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to obtain 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 community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama.