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How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene College near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama dental hygienist cleaning patient's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Homewood AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to 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 offered.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Homewood Alabama dental hygienist cleaning boy's teeth

When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Homewood AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

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

In order to be licensed in nearly 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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Homewood Alabama dental hygienist examining female patient's teethBecause of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Homewood AL dental offices are normally 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 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 practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Homewood AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.

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Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Homewood AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Homewood AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Homewood AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal 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 form professional relationships in the Homewood AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance 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 high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Homewood AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Homewood AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Homewood AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure 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 need to go to classes near Homewood AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, 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 Homewood Dental Hygienist Program

smile with white teeth by Homewood Alabama dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama.

 

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