How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene Program Near Opelika Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Opelika AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, for instance the program'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 discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Function of Dental Hygienists
Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations. Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Dental Hygienist Schooling and LicensingIndividuals wanting to become dental hygienists generally have two options: associate's degree programs or bachelor's degree programs. Most associate's degree programs take just two years to finish on a full-time basis. Bachelor's programs take four years to finish but can help you qualify for better jobs as well as those that pay more. And while bachelor's programs take longer to finish, these programs often include some clinical or practical work that helps you get familiar working with patients. Becoming a dental assistant or a hygienist requires that you get your license. According to the American Dental Association, most states require that hygienists have a degree from an accredited college or university and that they take an exam called the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam. If you do not receive a passing score on this exam, you will have the chance to take it again. You may need to take a test administered by the state board as well. This test will ask general questions about oral health, teeth cleaning and other things that dental hygienists do.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Opelika AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Opelika Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Opelika AL employers typically 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 obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in 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 are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Opelika AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to get 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 Opelika AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Opelika AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Opelika AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to add 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 loans, grants and scholarships in the Opelika AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Opelika AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose 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 have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Opelika Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Opelika Alabama.