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How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist College Near Fairhope Alabama

Fairhope Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist college near Fairhope AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, 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 accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Fairhope Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

When contrasting the duties 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 Fairhope AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results 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
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Teaching patients about oral hygiene
    • 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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fairhope Alabama dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Schools

Fairhope Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program might be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Fairhope AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal option for you.

What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

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

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Fairhope AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, practical 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Fairhope AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Fairhope AL dental hygienist college 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 Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fairhope AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Fairhope 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 making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Fairhope

Choose the Right Fairhope Dental Hygienist Training

Picking the right dental hygienist course is essential 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 many alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided 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 Fairhope Alabama.



 

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