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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene School near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama dental hygienist examining man's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Prichard AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider also, 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 two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Prichard Alabama dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Prichard AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

    • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing 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 Education Options

Prichard Alabama dental hygienist examining woman's teethDue to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Prichard AL dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Prichard AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the best option for you.

Learn More About Prichard Dental Hygienist Degree Programs

Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prichard 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 looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prichard AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Prichard AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive 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 form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Prichard AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Check with the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Prichard AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Prichard AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Prichard AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Right Prichard Dental Hygienist Courses

smile with clean teeth by Prichard Alabama dental hygienistSelecting the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are a number of options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prichard Alabama.

 

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