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How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene Training Program near Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville Alabama dental hygienist checking patient's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist school near Huntsville AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the college'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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Huntsville Alabama dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Huntsville AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

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

To qualify for licensing 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Huntsville Alabama dental hygienist checking woman's teethDue to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Huntsville AL dental offices are generally required to hold 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 virtually 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 dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Classes

Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a great option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Huntsville AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area 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 style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal option for you.

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Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Huntsville AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate 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 college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order 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 instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Huntsville AL dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want 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 Huntsville AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real 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 Huntsville AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Huntsville AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the schools you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Huntsville AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Huntsville AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Huntsville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Huntsville Dental Hygienist Courses

big smile with clean teeth by Huntsville Alabama dental hygienistEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are a number of options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama.

 

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