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How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist School Near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Homewood AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically 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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Homewood AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal 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 report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

In order to be licensed 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 Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Homewood Alabama dental offices are usually 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 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist school can be a great option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Homewood AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.

Topics to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided 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 School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Homewood AL employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Homewood AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the Homewood AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Homewood AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Homewood AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Homewood AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Homewood AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Homewood

Choose the Best Homewood Dental Hygienist Training

Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama.



 

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