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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist School near Leeds Alabama

Leeds Alabama dental hygienist checking patient's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Leeds AL is an important 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 choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the school'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 accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Leeds Alabama dental hygienist checking child's teeth

When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Leeds 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 sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every 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
    • Instructing patients regarding oral care
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Removing sutures and applying fillings

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 as well as any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Leeds Alabama dental hygienist checking woman's teethAs a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Leeds AL dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 practical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a good option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Leeds AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.

Learn More About Leeds Dental Hygienist Degrees

Topics to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Leeds AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation 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 program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Leeds AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Leeds AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the Leeds AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Leeds AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Leeds AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Leeds AL area.

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

Choose the Right Leeds Dental Hygienist Training

big smile with white teeth by Leeds Alabama dental hygienistChoosing the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are numerous options available to acquire your training 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 community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to 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 right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Leeds Alabama.

 

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