How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Orange Beach Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Orange Beach AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, such as the college'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 complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant 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, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- 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 have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Orange Beach AL dental offices are usually 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 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Orange Beach AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. 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 practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Orange Beach AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School 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 prerequisite in nearly 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 training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Orange Beach AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select offers enough 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, check that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Orange Beach AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the Orange Beach AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Orange Beach AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the programs you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Orange Beach AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Orange Beach AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Orange Beach AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Orange Beach Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the right dental hygienist program is essential 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 numerous options available to acquire 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend 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 best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Orange Beach Alabama.