How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist College near Sylacauga Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Sylacauga AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, such as the college'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 accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Sylacauga 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 interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform 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
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After 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 Degree Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Sylacauga 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in trade and vocational 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Sylacauga AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.
Subjects 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 programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Sylacauga AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For 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 Sylacauga AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to receive 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 Sylacauga AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Sylacauga AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Sylacauga AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Sylacauga AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in 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 acquiring your education and must attend classes near Sylacauga 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 policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Sylacauga Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the right 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 you now know, there are numerous alternatives 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Sylacauga Alabama.