How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist College Near Helena Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Helena AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, for instance the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing 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 role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Helena AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating 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 graduate 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 licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsAs a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Helena Alabama dental offices are normally 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 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a great option for obtaining 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 desktop computer in the comfort of your Helena AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Helena Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Helena AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Helena AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Helena AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Helena AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Helena AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Helena AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Helena AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need 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 because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Helena Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Helena Alabama.