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How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Course Near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Birmingham AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues 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 accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Function of Dental Hygienists

Birmingham Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Birmingham AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first 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 carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

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

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Birmingham Alabama dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Training

Birmingham Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program can be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Birmingham AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal choice for you.

Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Birmingham Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Birmingham AL employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose provides sufficient 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, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Birmingham AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional 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 Birmingham AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Birmingham AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Ask the programs you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Birmingham AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical 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 significant costs 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 colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Birmingham AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Birmingham AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical 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 emergencies.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Birmingham

Pick the Right Birmingham Dental Hygienist School

Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial 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 several options available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Birmingham Alabama.



 

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