How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Muscle Shoals AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, for instance the college'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 finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Muscle Shoals AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost 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 as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Muscle Shoals AL dental offices are normally 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a good option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Muscle Shoals AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Muscle Shoals AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Muscle Shoals AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires 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 programs.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Muscle Shoals AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain 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 form professional relationships in the Muscle Shoals AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Muscle Shoals AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Muscle Shoals AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to 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 Muscle Shoals AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Muscle Shoals AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical 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.
Pick the Right Muscle Shoals Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is imperative 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 numerous options available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively 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 schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Muscle Shoals Alabama.