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How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene School Near Opelika Alabama

Opelika Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethPicking the right dental hygienist college near Opelika 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 completing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to consider as well, for instance the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating 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

Opelika Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Opelika AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Opelika Alabama dental offices are generally 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 community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs

Opelika Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a great alternative for receiving 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 desktop computer in the comfort of your Opelika AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best choice for you.

What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Opelika Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation 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 program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify 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 receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Opelika AL employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Opelika AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help 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 also.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Opelika AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Ask the programs you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Opelika AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Opelika AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure 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 must go to classes near Opelika AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have 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 because of illness, work or family issues.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Opelika

Choose the Right Opelika Dental Hygienist Program

Selecting the ideal 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 numerous alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Opelika Alabama.



 

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