How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist College near Orange Beach Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Orange Beach AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the school'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 two to three years to finish. Naturally with the longer 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 programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Orange Beach AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report 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
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Orange Beach AL dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 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 sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Orange Beach AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Orange Beach AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Orange Beach AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Orange Beach AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Orange Beach AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Orange Beach AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Orange Beach AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Orange Beach AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Orange Beach Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain 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 elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Orange Beach Alabama.