How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Meridianville Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Meridianville AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Meridianville AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Meridianville AL dental practices are generally 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 almost 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Meridianville AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Meridianville AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Meridianville AL dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Meridianville AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Meridianville AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Meridianville AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the colleges you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Meridianville AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as 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 expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Meridianville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Meridianville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Meridianville Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Meridianville Alabama.