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How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Calera Alabama

Calera Alabama dental hygienist examining patient's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Calera AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, such as the program'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 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Calera Alabama dental hygienist examining child's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Calera AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

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

To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Calera Alabama dental hygienist examining woman's teethDue to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Calera AL dental offices are generally 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 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Classes

Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a good option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Calera AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.

Learn More About Calera Dental Hygienist Schools

Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Calera AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Calera AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Calera AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical 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 professional relationships in the Calera AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Calera AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the programs you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Calera AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Calera AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Calera AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Calera Dental Hygienist Program

smile with white teeth by Calera Alabama dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period 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 schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Calera Alabama.

 

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