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How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Prattville Alabama

Prattville Alabama dental hygienist checking patient's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist college near Prattville AL is an important initial 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 much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, including the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about 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 explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Prattville Alabama dental hygienist checking child's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Prattville AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also 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
    • Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • Removing sutures and applying fillings

In order to be licensed in nearly 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 licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Prattville Alabama dental hygienist examining woman's teethBecause of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Prattville AL dental practices are generally required to have 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Classes

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Prattville AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.

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What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prattville AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are looking at 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 school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order 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 instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Prattville AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Prattville AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Prattville AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Prattville AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Prattville AL dental hygienist school 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 Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Prattville AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to 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 need to go to classes near Prattville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

Pick the Right Prattville Dental Hygienist Training

big smile with white teeth by Prattville Alabama dental hygienistEnrolling in the right dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are many options available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prattville Alabama.

 

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