How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Oxford Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Oxford AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including the college'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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Oxford AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsDue to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Oxford Alabama dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 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 practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a good option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes 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 comfort of your Oxford AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning 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 school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oxford AL employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical 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. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Oxford AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means 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 form professional relationships in the Oxford AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Oxford AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Oxford AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Oxford AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Oxford AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Oxford Dental Hygienist School
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama.