How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene College near Saraland Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Saraland AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Saraland AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually 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 also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 Exam as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Saraland AL dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish 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 aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Saraland AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Saraland AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, 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 ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Saraland AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Saraland AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Saraland AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the schools you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Saraland AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Saraland 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 getting your education and must go to classes near Saraland AL in the evenings 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 procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Saraland Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal 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 a number of alternatives offered to receive your education 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 junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Saraland Alabama.