How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Course Near Opelika Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Opelika AL is an essential 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 completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest 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 usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsAs a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Opelika Alabama dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Opelika AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Opelika Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Opelika AL employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Opelika AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional 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 look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs 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 community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Opelika AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Opelika AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially 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 program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Opelika Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining 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 better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Opelika Alabama.