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How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Opelika Alabama

Opelika Alabama dental hygienist examining man's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist program near Opelika AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, for instance the college'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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Opelika Alabama dental hygienist cleaning child's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Opelika AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

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

In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Opelika Alabama dental hygienist cleaning female patient's teethDue to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Opelika AL dental practices are often 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Colleges

Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Opelika AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.

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What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Opelika AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided 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 many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Opelika AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Opelika AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Opelika AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the programs you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Opelika AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Opelika AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Opelika AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.

Pick the Best Opelika Dental Hygienist Training

big smile with clean teeth by Opelika Alabama dental hygienistSelecting the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Opelika Alabama.

 

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