How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Program near Wetumpka Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Wetumpka AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, including the college's reputation and accreditation. 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. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Wetumpka AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 licensure examinations. When 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 Training Options
As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Wetumpka AL dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Wetumpka AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Wetumpka AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Wetumpka AL dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose provides sufficient 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 school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Wetumpka AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Wetumpka AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Check with the programs you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Wetumpka AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost dependent 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 along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Wetumpka AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Wetumpka AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Wetumpka Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount 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 schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Wetumpka Alabama.