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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham Alabama dental hygienist checking man's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Birmingham AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, such as the college's accreditation and reputation. 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. Obviously with the lengthier 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 explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Birmingham Alabama dental hygienist checking child's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Birmingham 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 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 plaque, tartar and stains
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Teaching patients regarding oral care
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • Removing sutures and applying fillings

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 Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Birmingham Alabama dental hygienist cleaning woman's teethAs a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Birmingham AL dental practices 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Training

Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Birmingham AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area 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 style of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best 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 Birmingham AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Birmingham AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind 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 program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Birmingham AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to receive 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 establish professional relationships in the Birmingham AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Birmingham AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Birmingham AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses 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, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Birmingham AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Birmingham AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Birmingham Dental Hygienist Training

big smile with white teeth by Birmingham Alabama dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are a number of options available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Birmingham Alabama.

 

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