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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Fairfield Alabama

Fairfield Alabama dental hygienist checking patient's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist college near Fairfield AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Fairfield Alabama dental hygienist examining child's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Fairfield 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 teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

    • Removing stains, tartar 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 almost 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 exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Fairfield Alabama dental hygienist cleaning female patient's teethAs a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fairfield AL dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete 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 sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Schools

Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a great option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind 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 accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Fairfield AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.

Learn More About Fairfield Dental Hygiene Programs

Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairfield AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fairfield AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Fairfield AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the best 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering 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 Fairfield AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Fairfield AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fairfield AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Fairfield AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Fairfield Dental Hygienist Program

smile with clean teeth by Fairfield Alabama dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your training 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 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 in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairfield Alabama.

 

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