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How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Gulf Shores Alabama

Gulf Shores Alabama dental hygienist examining patient's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist college near Gulf Shores AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the college'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 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you should 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 Job of a Dental Hygienist

Gulf Shores Alabama dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Gulf Shores AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Educating patients about oral care
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Applying fillings and removing sutures

To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Gulf Shores Alabama dental hygienist cleaning woman's teethBecause of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Gulf Shores AL dental offices 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 complete 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs

Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Gulf Shores AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best option for you.

Learn More About Gulf Shores Dental Hygiene Courses

Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gulf Shores AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Gulf Shores AL dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind 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 select offers clinical rotation in a local Gulf Shores AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the Gulf Shores AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at 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 Gulf Shores AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the colleges you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Gulf Shores AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gulf Shores AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Gulf Shores AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Best Gulf Shores Dental Hygienist Training

smile with clean teeth by Gulf Shores Alabama dental hygienistEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are many options offered to receive 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 junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gulf Shores Alabama.

 

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