How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Leeds Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Leeds AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, including the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Leeds AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching 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 licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Leeds AL dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a good option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Leeds 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. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Leeds AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are several 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 final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Leeds AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Leeds AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical 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 professional relationships in the Leeds AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Leeds AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Leeds AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire 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 schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Leeds AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Leeds AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Leeds Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Leeds Alabama.