How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Center Point Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Center Point AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance the program'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 two to three years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties 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 Center Point AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsDue to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Center Point Alabama dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally 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 Center Point AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Center Point Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few 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 included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Center Point AL employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Center Point AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain hands-on, practical 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Center Point AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Center Point AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Center Point AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Center Point AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Center Point Dental Hygienist School
Picking the right dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Center Point Alabama.