How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene School near Montevallo Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Montevallo AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the program'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 accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged 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 programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Montevallo AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have completed 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
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Montevallo AL dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Montevallo AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montevallo AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning 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 guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Montevallo AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Montevallo AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Montevallo AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Montevallo AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Montevallo AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify 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 have to go to classes near Montevallo AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Montevallo Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options offered 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montevallo Alabama.