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

Huntsville Alabama dental hygienist examining man's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Huntsville AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing 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, such as the college's accreditation and reputation. 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 finish. Obviously with the lengthier 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 schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Huntsville Alabama dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Huntsville 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 encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Educating patients regarding oral care
    • 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing 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 Degree Options

Huntsville Alabama dental hygienist examining female patient's teethAs a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Huntsville AL dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Choosing an online dental hygienist college 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 rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop 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 accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right choice for you.

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Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Huntsville AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Huntsville AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides enough 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, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Huntsville AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to obtain 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Huntsville AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Huntsville AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Huntsville AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Huntsville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Pick the Right Huntsville Dental Hygienist Training

big smile with clean teeth by Huntsville Alabama dental hygienistSelecting the right dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are numerous options available to acquire your education 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 junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama.

 

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