How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Montevallo Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Montevallo AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including the college'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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Montevallo AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each 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 responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Montevallo AL dental practices are often required to have 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 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Montevallo AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montevallo AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Montevallo AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Montevallo AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Montevallo AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Montevallo AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 examining the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Montevallo AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Montevallo AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Montevallo Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, 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 education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montevallo Alabama.