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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Calera Alabama

Calera Alabama dental hygienist checking patient's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Calera AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Calera Alabama dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Calera AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

To qualify for licensing 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Calera Alabama dental hygienist checking female patient's teethDue to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Calera AL dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a great option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Calera AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice for you.

Learn More About Calera Dental Hygiene Degrees

Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Calera AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Calera AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Calera AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means 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 create professional relationships in the Calera AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Calera AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Calera AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to 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 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 colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Calera AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Calera AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required 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 illness, work or family emergencies.

Pick the Right Calera Dental Hygienist Courses

smile with clean teeth by Calera Alabama dental hygienistChoosing the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Calera Alabama.

 

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