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How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Irondale Alabama

Irondale Alabama dental hygienist checking man's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist program near Irondale AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to consider as well, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. 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. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Irondale Alabama dental hygienist examining child's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Irondale 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 first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

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

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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Irondale Alabama dental hygienist examining female patient's teethBecause of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Irondale AL dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in trade and technical 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Irondale AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.

Learn More About Irondale Dental Hygienist Schools

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Irondale AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, 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. Irondale AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Irondale AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Irondale AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Irondale AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs 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 Irondale AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Irondale AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Irondale Dental Hygienist Training

big smile with white teeth by Irondale Alabama dental hygienistEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Irondale Alabama.

 

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