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How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Foley Alabama

Foley Alabama dental hygienist examining patient's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Foley AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, such as 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. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Foley Alabama dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Foley AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. 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 duties may include:

    • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
    • 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 as well as any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Foley Alabama dental hygienist checking woman's teethAs a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Foley AL dental practices 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Colleges

Choosing an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Foley AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right option for you.

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Points to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Foley AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school 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. Foley AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Foley AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Foley AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Foley AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Foley AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Foley AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Foley Dental Hygienist Program

smile with white teeth by Foley Alabama dental hygienistSelecting the ideal dental hygienist course is important 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 several alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively 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 typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. 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 right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Foley Alabama.

 

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