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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Gulf Shores Alabama

Gulf Shores Alabama dental hygienist cleaning man's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Gulf Shores AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, including the program'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 explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Gulf Shores Alabama dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Gulf Shores AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

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

To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 Education Options

Gulf Shores Alabama dental hygienist cleaning female patient's teethBecause of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Gulf Shores AL dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely 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 Gulf Shores AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.

Find Out More About Gulf Shores Dental Hygiene Programs

Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gulf Shores AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Gulf Shores AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Gulf Shores AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to receive 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance getting 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 community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Gulf Shores 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 training can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gulf Shores AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Gulf Shores AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, 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 have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Pick the Right Gulf Shores Dental Hygienist Training

smile with white teeth by Gulf Shores Alabama dental hygienistChoosing the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are a number of options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gulf Shores Alabama.

 

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