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How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Northport Alabama

Northport Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Northport AL is an important 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 performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover 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 look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Job of Dental Hygienists

Northport Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Northport AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees 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. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

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

In order to be licensed in nearly 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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Schooling Options

Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Northport Alabama dental offices are often 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 finish 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Classes

Northport Alabama Dental Hygienist removing plaque from woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist college may be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Northport AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Northport AL employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose offers adequate 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, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Northport AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive 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 Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Northport AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Northport AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to 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 colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Northport AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Northport AL in the evenings 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 protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Northport

Pick the Best Northport Dental Hygienist School

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to receive 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided 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 Northport Alabama.



 

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