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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Hoover Alabama

Hoover Alabama dental hygienist cleaning man's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist program near Hoover AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider as well, including the school's accreditation and reputation. 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. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and additional 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 duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Hoover Alabama dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Hoover AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often 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 carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

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

In order to be licensed in almost 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 Exam as well as any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Hoover Alabama dental hygienist examining female patient's teethDue to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Hoover AL dental practices are normally required to have 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 clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Colleges

Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely 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 convenience of your Hoover AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.

Find Out More About Hoover Dental Hygienist Schools

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hoover AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at 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 right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Hoover AL dental practices frequently prefer 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 available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Hoover AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to get 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 develop professional relationships in the Hoover AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Hoover AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Hoover AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Hoover AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Hoover AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Right Hoover Dental Hygienist Training

smile with clean teeth by Hoover Alabama dental hygienistSelecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial 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 obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period 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 schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. 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 ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hoover Alabama.

 

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