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How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene School near Atmore Alabama

Atmore Alabama dental hygienist examining patient's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Atmore AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental 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 Role of Dental Hygienists

Atmore Alabama dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Atmore AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. 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 can include:

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

In order to be licensed 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Atmore Alabama dental hygienist examining female patient's teethAs a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Atmore AL dental offices are often required to hold 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 virtually 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 aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Schools

Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a good option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Atmore AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.

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Questions to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Atmore AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Atmore AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently 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 Atmore AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help landing 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 are likely to have good reputations within the Atmore AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Atmore AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides 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 examining the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Atmore AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Atmore AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required 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 because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Atmore Dental Hygienist Courses

big smile with clean teeth by Atmore Alabama dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount 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 normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Atmore Alabama.

 

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