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How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene School near Hartselle Alabama

Hartselle Alabama dental hygienist cleaning man's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist college near Hartselle AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, such as the college'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 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss 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 look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Hartselle Alabama dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When comparing 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 Hartselle AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth 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 plaque, tartar and stains
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Instructing patients about oral hygiene
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Removing sutures and applying fillings

To qualify for licensing in almost 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 as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Hartselle Alabama dental hygienist checking woman's teethAs a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Hartselle 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 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Hartselle AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area 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 method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.

Find Out More About Hartselle Dental Hygiene Degrees

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hartselle AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. 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 school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Hartselle AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Hartselle AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the Hartselle AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at 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 Hartselle AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Check with the colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Hartselle AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Hartselle AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Hartselle AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Pick the Right Hartselle Dental Hygienist Training

great smile with white teeth by Hartselle Alabama dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hartselle Alabama.

 

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