How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Program near Saraland Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Saraland AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations 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 provided.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Saraland AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Saraland AL dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Saraland AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Saraland 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 colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial points 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 best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order 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 education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Saraland AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you select provides enough 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, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Saraland AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to get 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 develop professional relationships in the Saraland AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Saraland AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the schools you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Saraland AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 schools, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Saraland AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Saraland AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Saraland Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the right dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount 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 usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend 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 best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Saraland Alabama.