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How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene School near Selma Alabama

Selma Alabama dental hygienist cleaning man's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist program near Selma AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, including the school'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 accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Selma Alabama dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Selma AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Instructing patients regarding oral care
    • 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. When 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

Selma Alabama dental hygienist cleaning female patient's teethBecause of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Selma AL dental offices are generally 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally 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 Selma AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best 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 Selma AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order 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 instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Selma AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Selma AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real 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 look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are reviewing 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 Selma AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Selma AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Selma AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Selma AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Selma Dental Hygienist Training

big smile with clean teeth by Selma Alabama dental hygienistPicking the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to obtain your education 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 typically 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 elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Selma Alabama.

 

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