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How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist College near Northport Alabama

Northport Alabama dental hygienist checking man's teethPicking the right dental hygienist program near Northport AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Northport Alabama dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Northport AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Teaching 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 have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Northport Alabama dental hygienist cleaning woman's teethDue to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Northport AL dental offices are normally required to hold 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 nearly 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Classes

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a great option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Northport AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical 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 appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.

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Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Northport AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Northport AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose offers 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 have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Northport AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best method 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 Northport AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Northport AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Northport AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Northport AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Northport AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Pick the Best Northport Dental Hygienist Training

smile with white teeth by Northport Alabama dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect 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 in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama.

 

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