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How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Decatur Alabama

Decatur Alabama dental hygienist examining patient's teethPicking the right dental hygienist college near Decatur AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, for instance the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Job of Dental Hygienists

Decatur Alabama dental hygienist cleaning boy's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Decatur AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Decatur Alabama dental hygienist examining female patient's teethAs a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Decatur 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 virtually 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Classes

Choosing an online dental hygienist college can be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Decatur AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.

Find Out More About Decatur Dental Hygienist Degrees

Topics to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Decatur AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Decatur AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Decatur AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional 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 look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Decatur AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the colleges you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Decatur AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Decatur AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Decatur AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.

Pick the Best Decatur Dental Hygienist Training

smile with white teeth by Decatur Alabama dental hygienistChoosing the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing 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 presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Decatur Alabama.

 

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