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How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene College near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama dental hygienist cleaning man's teethPicking the right dental hygienist college near Dothan AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually 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 cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Dothan Alabama dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Dothan AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Instructing patients about oral care
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Dothan Alabama dental hygienist checking female patient's teethBecause of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Dothan AL dental offices are often 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 clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs

Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Dothan AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.

Learn More About Dothan Dental Hygiene Programs

Questions to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Dothan AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to make 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 program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going 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 program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Dothan AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in offers enough 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, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Dothan AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Dothan AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Dothan AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Dothan AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Dothan AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Pick the Right Dothan Dental Hygienist Courses

smile with clean teeth by Dothan Alabama dental hygienistPicking the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are numerous options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama.

 

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