How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Pleasant Grove Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Pleasant Grove AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Pleasant Grove AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar 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
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Pleasant Grove AL dental offices are usually required to hold 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 almost 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 clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a viable alternative 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 available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Pleasant Grove AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Pleasant Grove AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for some online options also. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Pleasant Grove AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Pleasant Grove AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Pleasant Grove AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges 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 Pleasant Grove AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Pleasant Grove AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask 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 school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Pleasant Grove AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Pleasant Grove Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount 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 receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. 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 by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Pleasant Grove Alabama.