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How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Training Program near Muscle Shoals Alabama

Muscle Shoals Alabama dental hygienist cleaning patient's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Muscle Shoals AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including the school's reputation and accreditation. 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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Muscle Shoals Alabama dental hygienist examining child's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Muscle Shoals AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

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

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 licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Muscle Shoals Alabama dental hygienist checking female patient's teethBecause of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Muscle Shoals AL dental practices are usually required to have 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 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Muscle Shoals AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.

Learn More About Muscle Shoals Dental Hygiene Degree Programs

Subjects to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Muscle Shoals AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school 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 certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Muscle Shoals AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Muscle Shoals AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive 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 Muscle Shoals AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Muscle Shoals AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the schools you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Muscle Shoals AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Muscle Shoals AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Muscle Shoals AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Pick the Best Muscle Shoals Dental Hygienist Training

great smile with white teeth by Muscle Shoals Alabama dental hygienistEnrolling in the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Muscle Shoals Alabama.

 

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