How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist College Near Mountain Brook Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Mountain Brook AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, including the school'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 two to three years to finish. Naturally with the longer 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 colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Mountain Brook AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with 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 may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsDue to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Mountain Brook Alabama dental practices are often 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Mountain Brook AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of 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 condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Mountain Brook AL employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Mountain Brook AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get 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 build professional relationships in the Mountain Brook AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at 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 Mountain Brook AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Mountain Brook AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Mountain Brook AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Mountain Brook AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Mountain Brook Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial 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 several options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama.