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How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Phenix City Alabama

Phenix City Alabama dental hygienist cleaning man's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist college near Phenix City AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Phenix City Alabama dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Phenix City AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Removing sutures and applying fillings

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 Exam as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Phenix City Alabama dental hygienist cleaning female patient's teethDue to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Phenix City AL dental practices are generally 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 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Phenix City AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best choice for you.

Find Out More About Phenix City Dental Hygienist Degree Programs

Questions to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phenix City AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to reach 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 several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify 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 education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Phenix City AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Phenix City AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method 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 are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Phenix City AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Check with the colleges you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Phenix City AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Phenix City AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Phenix City AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Phenix City Dental Hygienist Courses

great smile with white teeth by Phenix City Alabama dental hygienistEnrolling in the right dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. 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 ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama.

 

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