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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Lincoln Alabama

Lincoln Alabama dental hygienist cleaning patient's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Lincoln AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider as well, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. 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. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns 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 offered.

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Lincoln Alabama dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Lincoln AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often 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. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Educating patients about 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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Lincoln Alabama dental hygienist checking woman's teethBecause of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Lincoln AL dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Lincoln AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal choice for you.

Find Out More About Lincoln Dental Hygienist Degrees

Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Lincoln AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good 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 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 ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Lincoln AL dental practices frequently 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 provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Lincoln AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Lincoln AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the schools you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Lincoln AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Lincoln AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Lincoln AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Pick the Right Lincoln Dental Hygienist Training

smile with clean teeth by Lincoln Alabama dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend 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 alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Lincoln Alabama.

 

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