How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Course Near Helena Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Helena AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues 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 two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Helena AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed 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 working in Helena Alabama dental offices are generally 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 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist program might be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Helena AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Helena Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Helena AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers enough 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 school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Helena AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical 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 professional relationships in the Helena AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Helena AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the programs you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Helena AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Helena AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Helena AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Helena Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Helena Alabama.