How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Oxford Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Oxford AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the school'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 complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job 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 Oxford AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters 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 responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost 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 exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Oxford AL dental offices are generally required to hold 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 nearly 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Oxford AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oxford AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order 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. Oxford AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Oxford AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical 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 form professional relationships in the Oxford AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Oxford AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Check with the programs you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Oxford AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools 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 costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Oxford AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Oxford AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Oxford Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive 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 programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama.