How to Choose a Dental Hygienist College near Alabaster Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Alabaster AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the program’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 are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably 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 Alabaster AL practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Alabaster AL dental practice and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabaster AL area community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in Alabaster AL area vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a good option for receiving 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 via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Alabaster AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Alabama programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective 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 important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alabaster AL area schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Alabaster AL often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited Alabama schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the Alabama college you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, a large number of Alabaster AL dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Alabaster AL program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Alabaster AL dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene 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. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Alabaster AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the Alabama colleges you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Alabaster AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near your Alabaster AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Dental Hygienist?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Hygiene job, it's important to review questions you could be asked. Among the things that hiring managers typically ask Dental Hygienist candidates is "What made you pick Hygiene as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a Dental Hygienist, but also what qualities and skills you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to Hygiene, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should organize several ideas about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional Dental Hygienist and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down some concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Alabaster AL
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Alabaster AL.
A Bit About Alabaster Alabama
Alabaster is a city and southern suburb of Birmingham in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 30,352. According to the 2013 Census Estimates, the city had a population of 31,342. Alabaster is the 16th largest city in Alabama (by number of residents) and still a growing population.
Alabaster is located at 33°13′52″N 86°49′26″W / 33.23111°N 86.82389°W / 33.23111; -86.82389 (33.231162, −86.823829).
Alabaster mostly occupies Cahaba and Opossum Valleys, which are divided by the Pine Ridge that runs north to south. To the east and west, both valleys are flanked by parallel mountain ridges that locally run north to south, but are a part of a larger system of ridges that generally runs north-east to south-west (the tailing ends of the Appalachian foothills). The valleys are drained by small creeks (Buck Creek, Beaverdam Creek) which flow into the Cahaba River.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.6 square miles (53 km2), of which 20.5 square miles (53 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.24%) is water.
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