How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Pleasant Grove Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Pleasant Grove AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, including the program'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 two to three years to finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing 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 role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Pleasant Grove AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 as well as 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 Degree Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Pleasant Grove AL dental offices are normally required to have 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 nearly every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Pleasant Grove AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Pleasant Grove AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate 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 going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Pleasant Grove AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Pleasant Grove AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way 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 develop professional relationships in the Pleasant Grove AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Pleasant Grove AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Pleasant Grove AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks 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 offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Pleasant Grove AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Pleasant Grove AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required 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 Pleasant Grove Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Pleasant Grove Alabama.