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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Training Program near Valley Alabama

Valley Alabama dental hygienist cleaning man's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Valley AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the college's accreditation and reputation. 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 accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss 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 duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Valley Alabama dental hygienist examining child's teeth

When comparing the duties 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 Valley AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Valley Alabama dental hygienist checking female patient's teethAs a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Valley AL dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Choosing an online dental hygienist college can be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Valley AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.

Learn More About Valley Dental Hygiene Degrees

Topics to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Valley AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Valley AL dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Valley AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Valley AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Valley AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Valley AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Valley AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Valley AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have 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 work, illness or family emergencies.

Pick the Best Valley Dental Hygienist Program

smile with clean teeth by Valley Alabama dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Valley Alabama.

 

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