How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Program Near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Vestavia Hills AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, including the school'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 two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing 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 Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Vestavia Hills AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding 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 examinations. Once 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 Education OptionsDue to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Vestavia Hills Alabama dental offices are generally 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 virtually 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 clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Vestavia Hills AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Vestavia Hills AL employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in 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 enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Vestavia Hills AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Vestavia Hills AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Vestavia Hills AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, 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 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 comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Vestavia Hills AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, 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 have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Vestavia Hills Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama.