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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Lincoln Alabama

Lincoln Alabama dental hygienist cleaning man's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Lincoln AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, including 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. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Lincoln Alabama dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Lincoln AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results 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
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Teaching patients regarding oral care
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Applying fillings and removing sutures

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 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 Training Options

Lincoln Alabama dental hygienist checking female patient's teethAs a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Lincoln AL dental offices are often required to have 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 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 practical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Lincoln AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed 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 furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.

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Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Lincoln AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lincoln AL dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Lincoln AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to get 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Lincoln AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Lincoln AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Lincoln AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Lincoln AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.

Pick the Right Lincoln Dental Hygienist Program

smile with clean teeth by Lincoln Alabama dental hygienistEnrolling in the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are many options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. 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 selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Lincoln Alabama.

 

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