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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Hartselle Alabama

Hartselle Alabama dental hygienist examining patient's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist school near Hartselle AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Hartselle Alabama dental hygienist checking child's teeth

When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main 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 supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

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

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

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Hartselle Alabama dental hygienist cleaning woman's teethAs a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Hartselle AL dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. 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 dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Hartselle AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. 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.

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What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hartselle AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, 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 Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending 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 college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education 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 finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind 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 choose 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 programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Hartselle AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Hartselle AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Hartselle AL area.

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

Choose the Right Hartselle Dental Hygienist Program

big smile with clean teeth by Hartselle Alabama dental hygienistChoosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are many 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 training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hartselle Alabama.

 

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