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How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Birmingham AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. 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 finish. Naturally with the prolonged 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 assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Job of Dental Hygienists

Birmingham Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly 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, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When 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 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 trade and vocational 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Birmingham Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Birmingham AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.

Issues to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

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 covered at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Birmingham AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Birmingham AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Birmingham AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Birmingham AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, 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 enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Birmingham AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required 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 due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Birmingham

Pick the Best Birmingham Dental Hygienist Program

Enrolling in 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 many options available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. 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 better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Birmingham Alabama.



 

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