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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Millbrook Alabama

Millbrook Alabama dental hygienist examining patient's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Millbrook AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Millbrook Alabama dental hygienist checking child's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Millbrook AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 licensing examinations. When 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 Education Options

Millbrook Alabama dental hygienist checking woman's teethBecause of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Millbrook AL dental offices are generally 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Classes

Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Millbrook AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice for you.

Learn More About Millbrook Dental Hygiene Programs

Topics to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Millbrook AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually 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 receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Millbrook AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Millbrook AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Millbrook AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Millbrook AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the schools you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Millbrook AL dental hygienist school 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 Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Millbrook AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Millbrook AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Right Millbrook Dental Hygienist Program

big smile with clean teeth by Millbrook Alabama dental hygienistEnrolling in the right dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period 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 obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing 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 presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Millbrook Alabama.

 

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