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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene College near Atmore Alabama

Atmore Alabama dental hygienist checking patient's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Atmore AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, such as the college'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 complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Atmore Alabama dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Atmore AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Instructing patients about oral hygiene
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Atmore Alabama dental hygienist examining female patient's teethDue to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Atmore AL dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete 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 component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Colleges

Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Atmore AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.

Learn More About Atmore Dental Hygiene Programs

Subjects to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Atmore AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Atmore AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Atmore AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing 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 Atmore AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Small? Find out from the programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Atmore AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Atmore AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Atmore AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Atmore Dental Hygienist Training

smile with clean teeth by Atmore Alabama dental hygienistPicking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are many options available to acquire 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 junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Atmore Alabama.

 

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