How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene College Near Decatur Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Decatur AL is an essential 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 far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, for instance the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Decatur AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsAs a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Decatur Alabama dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. 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 offered in trade and technical 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Decatur AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Decatur Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Decatur AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select offers sufficient 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, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Decatur AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Decatur AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Decatur AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount 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 costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Decatur AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Decatur AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Decatur Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided 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 Decatur Alabama.