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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist College near Fultondale Alabama

Fultondale Alabama dental hygienist cleaning man's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Fultondale AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the college's accreditation and reputation. 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Fultondale Alabama dental hygienist cleaning boy's teeth

When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Fultondale AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

    • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Educating 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 exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Fultondale Alabama dental hygienist checking woman's teethBecause of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fultondale AL dental practices are normally 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Training

Choosing an online dental hygienist college can be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Fultondale AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. 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 required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.

Find Out More About Fultondale Dental Hygiene Programs

Topics to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fultondale AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fultondale AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college 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 have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Fultondale AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fultondale AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Fultondale AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fultondale AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Fultondale 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 making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Fultondale Dental Hygienist Courses

big smile with white teeth by Fultondale Alabama dental hygienistEnrolling in the ideal 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 we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fultondale Alabama.

 

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