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How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist Program Near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist college near Birmingham AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess 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 school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account 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 longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Birmingham Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning woman's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Birmingham AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

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

To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Birmingham Alabama dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Classes

Birmingham Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Birmingham AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added 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 practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.

Topics to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Birmingham Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at 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 school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, 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 ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Birmingham AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Birmingham AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, clinical 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Birmingham AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Check with the colleges you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Birmingham AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides 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 comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Birmingham AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Birmingham AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Birmingham

Pick the Right Birmingham Dental Hygienist Training

Picking the right dental hygienist course is crucial 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 a number of options available to obtain your education 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Birmingham Alabama.



 

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