How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Helena Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Helena AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the college'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 finish. Obviously with the lengthier 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 look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably 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 a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- 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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsDue to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Helena Alabama dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete 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 clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Helena AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Helena Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school 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. Helena AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Helena AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Helena AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Helena AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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 comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Helena AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Helena AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Helena Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated 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 amount 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 generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. 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 right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Helena Alabama.