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How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Homewood AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, such as 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 two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Homewood AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

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

To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 licensure examinations. 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 Schooling Options

Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Homewood Alabama dental offices are normally 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 virtually 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 clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist program might be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Homewood AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.

Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are a few 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 provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Homewood AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Homewood AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain 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 develop professional relationships in the Homewood AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Homewood AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Homewood AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Homewood AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Homewood AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Homewood

Pick the Best Homewood Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period 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 schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. 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 appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama.



 

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