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How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene College near Hoover Alabama

Hoover Alabama dental hygienist cleaning man's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist college near Hoover AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account 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 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Hoover Alabama dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Hoover AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

    • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Educating 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled 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 checking female patient's teethAs a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Hoover AL dental practices are usually 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 nearly 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. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Hoover AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical 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 obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.

Learn More About Hoover Dental Hygienist Schools

Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hoover AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. 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 search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Hoover AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Hoover AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Hoover AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Hoover AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training 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 whether they are public or private 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 examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Hoover AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Hoover AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Hoover Dental Hygienist Program

great smile with white teeth by Hoover Alabama dental hygienistPicking the right 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 we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hoover Alabama.

 

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