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How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama dental hygienist cleaning man's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist college near Homewood AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually 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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Homewood Alabama dental hygienist examining 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 on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Homewood AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

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

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Homewood Alabama dental hygienist checking female patient's teethAs a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Homewood AL dental offices are normally required to have 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 virtually 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Classes

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Homewood AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. 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 necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the right option for you.

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What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Homewood AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many 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 condition in virtually all states. To qualify 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 instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Homewood AL dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide 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 kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Homewood AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get 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 create professional relationships in the Homewood AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require help landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Homewood AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Check with the schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Homewood AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Homewood AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Homewood AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Homewood Dental Hygienist Training

smile with white teeth by Homewood Alabama dental hygienistPicking the right dental hygienist course is essential 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 several alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing 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 best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama.

 

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