How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Dixiana Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Dixiana AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Dixiana AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsBecause of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Dixiana Alabama dental offices are often required to have 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 almost every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Dixiana AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the best option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Dixiana Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to reach 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 school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Dixiana AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Dixiana AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the Dixiana AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Dixiana AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Ask the programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Dixiana 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 Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Dixiana AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Dixiana AL at nights 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 protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Dixiana Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining 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 better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Dixiana Alabama.