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How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene School near Montevallo Alabama

Montevallo Alabama dental hygienist checking patient's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Montevallo AL is an important first step toward starting 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 doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, such as the program'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 accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Montevallo Alabama dental hygienist cleaning child's teeth

When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Montevallo AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically 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 may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

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

To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Montevallo Alabama dental hygienist cleaning woman's teethBecause of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Montevallo AL dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Schools

Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a viable alternative for getting your education. 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 via your personal computer in the convenience of your Montevallo AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually 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 appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal choice for you.

Learn More About Montevallo Dental Hygienist Degrees

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montevallo AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify 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. Montevallo AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you enroll in offers enough 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, confirm that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Montevallo AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive 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 form professional relationships in the Montevallo AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Montevallo AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the colleges you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Montevallo AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Montevallo AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Montevallo AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Pick the Right Montevallo Dental Hygienist Program

smile with white teeth by Montevallo Alabama dental hygienistEnrolling in the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are several options available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montevallo Alabama.

 

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