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How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Forestdale Alabama

Forestdale Alabama dental hygienist checking man's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Forestdale AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as 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 complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Forestdale Alabama dental hygienist cleaning child's teeth

When contrasting the duties 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 assists the Forestdale AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Teaching patients regarding 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 Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Forestdale Alabama dental hygienist examining woman's teethAs a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Forestdale AL dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Forestdale AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often 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 discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right choice for you.

Learn More About Forestdale Dental Hygiene Schools

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Forestdale 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 begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. 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 college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Forestdale AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Forestdale AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Forestdale AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Forestdale AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Small? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Forestdale AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs 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 Forestdale AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Forestdale AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Right Forestdale Dental Hygienist Training

great smile with white teeth by Forestdale Alabama dental hygienistChoosing the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Forestdale Alabama.

 

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