How to Select a Dental Hygienist College near Gardendale Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Gardendale AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Gardendale AL practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Gardendale AL dental practice and can carry out a variety of functions. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Some dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Gardendale AL area junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. 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 also offered in Gardendale AL area trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Gardendale AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like 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 online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Once you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Gardendale AL area colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, 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 enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Gardendale AL often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited Alabama programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the Alabama school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Gardendale AL dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Gardendale AL program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Gardendale AL dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene programs require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Gardendale AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alabama programs you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Gardendale AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near your Gardendale AL home at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical 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 responsibilities.
Why Did You Want to Become a Dental Hygienist?When prepping to interview for a Dental Hygienist job, it's a good idea to consider questions you might be asked. Among the things that interviewers frequently ask Dental Hygiene applicants is "What made you choose Hygiene as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Dental Hygienist, but additionally what attributes and talents you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to Hygiene, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare several ideas about how you want to respond to them. Since there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an excellent Dental Hygienist and the best choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down some ideas and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Gardendale AL
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gardendale AL.
A Bit About Gardendale Alabama
Gardendale is a city in Jefferson County, Alabama, United States and a northern suburb of Birmingham. The population was 13,893 at the 2010 census.
A large farm settlement near the area today known as Gardendale was settled around 1825. Some years later, other settlers began to move into the community commonly known as Jugtown, a name given to the area based on the presence of a large jug and churn factory that operated in the area. Some years later, Hettie Thomason Cargo, a school teacher, would lead a campaign to change the name of the community. In 1906, the name Gardendale was selected, and in 1955, the City of Gardendale was officially incorporated. Today, with more than 13,000 residents (estimated), the city of Gardendale has grown to include more than 400 businesses, 4 schools, and 24 churches.
In 1996, the Olympic torch run passed through the city during the weeks leading up to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. Before Interstate 65 was constructed, the main route between Nashville, Tennessee and Birmingham, Alabama was U.S. Route 31. Prior to being built as a four-lane road, U.S. 31 was a twisting two-lane road that is still largely visible today. From the north end of Gardendale, it is now Snow Rogers Road, North Road, Moncrief Road, and then Main Street southward through the city to the Fultondale city limit where it becomes Stouts Road. In the fall of 2008, new signs were placed along the original route of Stouts Road through Gardendale denoting its historical significance as a stagecoach route between Tennessee and Birmingham during the 19th century. The first traffic signals in the city were located along U.S. 31 at Tarrant Road, Fieldstown Road, and Moncrief Road as well as Tarrant Road at Pineywood Road. A new signal at the intersection of Fieldstown Road and Main Street near city hall replaced a blinking signal shortly thereafter. Fieldstown Road was a narrow two lane road from U.S. 31 westward until Interstate 65 was built and then Fieldstown Road was re-routed onto the new road in the mid-1980s. An abundance of traffic signals have been erected in the city since those early days. In approximately 1970, the city installed street lights along U.S. 31 from the Fultondale city limits northward to the Moncrief Road intersection. The technology at that time was for blue vapor lights. Today, nearly 40 years later those same blue vapor lights still exist with some being replaced with the more modern bulbs near major intersections. Since 1980, Gardendale has annexed considerable amounts of land on the north, east, and west sides. Much of the eastern area is uninhabited. The western annexation is centered along Fieldstown Road. Most of the newest residential development has been in this area and along Shady Grove Road south of Fieldstown Road. The northern annexation has centered along US 31 and extends nearly 2 miles (3.2 km) farther north than 1980. The city has a working historical society, established January 23, 2006, that is working to record the history of the Gardendale area. They have a museum that is open to the public on Saturday mornings each week. It contains a variety of photographs, documents, and other historical memorabilia from Gardendale.
Gardendale is located at 33°39′36″N 86°48′46″W / 33.66000°N 86.81278°W / 33.66000; -86.81278 (33.6601033, -86.8127702). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.0 square miles (47 km2), all land. However, with the recent annexation of several thousand acres from the community of Mt. Olive and other unincorporated areas, the city now has an estimated total area of around 25.0 square miles (65 km2). Gardendale is situated along one of the three major transportation corridors from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast (I-75, I-65, I-55). A tremendous volume of freight (via rail and truck) passes through or near Gardendale.
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