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How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist School near Clay Alabama

Clay Alabama dental hygienist checking patient's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist program near Clay AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, including the school's reputation and accreditation. 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 cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Clay Alabama dental hygienist examining child's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Clay 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 sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Educating patients about oral hygiene
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Removing sutures and applying fillings

To qualify for licensing in almost 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. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Clay Alabama dental hygienist examining woman's teethBecause of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Clay AL dental offices are normally 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Clay AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced 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 appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.

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Questions to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Clay AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Clay AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Clay AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real 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 are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Clay AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the schools 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 greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Clay AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate 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 private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Clay AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Clay AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Clay Dental Hygienist Courses

smile with clean teeth by Clay Alabama dental hygienistSelecting the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount 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 schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Clay Alabama.

 

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