How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Oxford Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Oxford AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider as well, including the school'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 complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Oxford AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Schooling OptionsDue to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Oxford Alabama dental practices are normally 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 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a viable option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Oxford AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several 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 prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oxford AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Oxford AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Oxford AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the programs you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Oxford AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Oxford AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Oxford AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Oxford Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 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 addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama.