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How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene College near Athens Alabama

Athens Alabama dental hygienist cleaning patient's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Athens AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, such as the college's reputation and accreditation. 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 cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Athens Alabama dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Athens AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Applying fillings and removing sutures

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 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 can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Athens Alabama dental hygienist cleaning woman's teethAs a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Athens AL dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in trade and vocational 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Classes

Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for obtaining your education. Just remember 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 via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Athens AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right choice for you.

Learn More About Athens Dental Hygienist Programs

Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Athens AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. 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 reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Athens AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Athens AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the Athens AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Athens AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Check with the colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Athens AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Athens AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Athens AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have 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 issues.

Choose the Best Athens Dental Hygienist Program

smile with white teeth by Athens Alabama dental hygienistSelecting the right dental hygienist course is imperative 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 many options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide 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 begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Athens Alabama.

 

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