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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist College near Mountain Brook Alabama

Mountain Brook Alabama dental hygienist examining man's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist program near Mountain Brook AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, including the college'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 two to three years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Mountain Brook Alabama dental hygienist cleaning boy's teeth

When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Mountain Brook AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

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

To qualify for licensing in almost 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 examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Mountain Brook Alabama dental hygienist examining female patient's teethBecause of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Mountain Brook AL dental practices 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 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a great option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Mountain Brook AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.

Learn More About Mountain Brook Dental Hygienist Programs

Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Mountain Brook AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Mountain Brook AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method 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 build professional relationships in the Mountain Brook AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Mountain Brook AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Mountain Brook AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides 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 costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Mountain Brook AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Mountain Brook AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Mountain Brook Dental Hygienist Program

great smile with clean teeth by Mountain Brook Alabama dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist program is important 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 numerous alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama.

 

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