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How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist School near Hartselle Alabama

Hartselle Alabama dental hygienist examining patient's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist program near Hartselle AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. 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 talk about all of these concerns 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 offered.

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Hartselle Alabama dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Hartselle AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

    • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Hartselle Alabama dental hygienist examining female patient's teethAs a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Hartselle AL dental practices are usually 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 finish 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a good alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Hartselle AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced 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 needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.

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Points to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hartselle AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Hartselle AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Hartselle AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain hands-on, practical 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 professional relationships in the Hartselle AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Hartselle AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Hartselle AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Hartselle AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Hartselle AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Hartselle Dental Hygienist Training

big smile with white teeth by Hartselle Alabama dental hygienistChoosing the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hartselle Alabama.

 

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