How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Sylacauga Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Sylacauga AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, for instance the college'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 accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role 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 Sylacauga AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Sylacauga AL dental practices are generally 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Sylacauga AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the right option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Sylacauga AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Sylacauga AL dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you choose offers 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, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Sylacauga AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best 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 professional relationships in the Sylacauga AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Sylacauga AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Sylacauga AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Sylacauga AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Sylacauga AL in the evenings 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 policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Sylacauga Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking 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 Sylacauga Alabama.