How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Opelika Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Opelika AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the program'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. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role 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 assists the Opelika AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsAs a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Opelika Alabama dental offices 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 complete 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a good alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Opelika AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
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 beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Opelika AL employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Opelika AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to get 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Opelika AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Opelika AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to 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 add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Opelika AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Opelika AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Opelika Dental Hygienist School
Picking the right dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Opelika Alabama.