How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Mountain Brook Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Mountain Brook AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing 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 significant factors to consider as well, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main 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 a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Mountain Brook AL dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Mountain Brook AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
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 covered at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, 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 ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Mountain Brook AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Mountain Brook AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective 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 form professional relationships in the Mountain Brook AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Mountain Brook AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Mountain Brook AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Mountain Brook AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Mountain Brook AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Mountain Brook Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama.