How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Mountain Brook Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Mountain Brook AL is an essential initial step toward launching 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 program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, for instance the college's accreditation and reputation. 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 complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. 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 look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Mountain Brook AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Mountain Brook AL dental practices are often 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 vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Mountain Brook AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Mountain Brook AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Mountain Brook AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to receive 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 create professional relationships in the Mountain Brook AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Ask 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 Mountain Brook AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Mountain Brook AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Mountain Brook AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Mountain Brook AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Mountain Brook Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program 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 many options offered to obtain 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama.