How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist Course Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Tuscaloosa AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Tuscaloosa AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsAs a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Tuscaloosa Alabama dental practices are normally required to have 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 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Tuscaloosa AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Tuscaloosa Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Tuscaloosa AL employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Tuscaloosa AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive hands-on, clinical 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Tuscaloosa AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Check with the programs you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Tuscaloosa AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance 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 costs 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 examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Tuscaloosa AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Tuscaloosa Dental Hygienist School
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Tuscaloosa Alabama.