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How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Mountain Brook Alabama

Mountain Brook Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethPicking the right dental hygienist program near Mountain Brook AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, 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 complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Function of Dental Hygienists

Mountain Brook Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride woman's teeth

When contrasting 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 assists the Mountain Brook 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 initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Teaching patients about oral care
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Schooling Options

As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Mountain Brook Alabama dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs

Mountain Brook Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Mountain Brook AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical 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 obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.

Questions to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Mountain Brook AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Mountain Brook AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical 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 also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing 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 Mountain Brook AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Mountain Brook AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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 schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Mountain Brook AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Mountain Brook AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Mountain Brook

Pick the Best Mountain Brook Dental Hygienist Program

Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide 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 begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama.



 

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