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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Clay Alabama

Clay Alabama dental hygienist examining man's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist program near Clay AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, including the program'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. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Clay Alabama dental hygienist cleaning boy's teeth

When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Clay AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal 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 area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

    • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
    • 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Clay Alabama dental hygienist checking female patient's teethDue to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Clay AL dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical 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 college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically 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 appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.

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Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Clay AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Clay AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Clay AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, clinical 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 form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Clay AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Small? Ask the schools you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Clay AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. 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 analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Clay AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm 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 have to go to classes near Clay AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required 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 due to work, illness or family issues.

Pick the Right Clay Dental Hygienist Courses

great smile with clean teeth by Clay Alabama dental hygienistSelecting the right dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively 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 typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Clay Alabama.

 

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