How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Montgomery Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Montgomery AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, including the school'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 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Montgomery AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Montgomery AL dental practices are generally required to hold 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 virtually 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Montgomery AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montgomery AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Montgomery AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Montgomery AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Montgomery AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Montgomery AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Montgomery AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Montgomery AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical 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 issues.
Choose the Right Montgomery Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period 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 schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering 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 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama.