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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Northport Alabama

Northport Alabama dental hygienist cleaning patient's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist program near Northport AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Northport Alabama dental hygienist checking child's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Northport AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. Once 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 Training Options

Northport Alabama dental hygienist examining female patient's teethAs a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Northport AL dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Colleges

Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Northport AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.

Learn More About Northport Dental Hygiene Schools

Issues to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Northport AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending 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 college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Northport 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, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested 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.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Northport AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Northport AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out 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 must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Northport AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need 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 illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Northport Dental Hygienist Program

great smile with clean teeth by Northport Alabama dental hygienistChoosing the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are many options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama.

 

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