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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist College near Pelham Alabama

Pelham Alabama dental hygienist checking patient's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Pelham AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as the program'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 two to three years to finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Pelham Alabama dental hygienist examining child's teeth

When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Pelham AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one 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 report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Pelham Alabama dental hygienist examining female patient's teethAs a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Pelham AL dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Pelham AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot 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 as well. The practical 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 receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.

Learn More About Pelham Dental Hygienist Schools

Subjects to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Pelham AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Pelham AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose provides sufficient 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, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Pelham AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Pelham AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Pelham AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Pelham AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Pelham AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Pick the Best Pelham Dental Hygienist Program

smile with clean teeth by Pelham Alabama dental hygienistChoosing 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 we have covered, there are numerous options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Pelham Alabama.

 

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