How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Montgomery Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Montgomery AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the school'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. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Montgomery AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Montgomery AL dental offices 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 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a good alternative for receiving 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 remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Montgomery AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montgomery AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Montgomery AL dental practices frequently prefer 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 available for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Montgomery AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to get 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Montgomery AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the programs you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Montgomery AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Montgomery AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm 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 have to go to classes near Montgomery AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required 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 due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Montgomery Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama.