How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist College Near Montgomery Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Montgomery AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the school'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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Montgomery AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. Once 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 Education OptionsDue to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Montgomery Alabama dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish 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. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Montgomery AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good 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 almost all states. In order 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 education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Montgomery AL employers frequently desire 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 obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Montgomery AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Montgomery AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Montgomery AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether 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 expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Montgomery AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Montgomery AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Montgomery Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama.