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How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Oxford AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Oxford 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 undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Oxford AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Teaching patients about oral care
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When 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 Education Options

As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Oxford Alabama dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Colleges

Oxford Alabama Dental Hygienist removing plaque from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist college may be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Oxford AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Oxford AL employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential 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. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Oxford AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to get 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 establish professional relationships in the Oxford AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Oxford AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Oxford AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Oxford AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Oxford AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Oxford

Choose the Best Oxford Dental Hygienist Training

Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend 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 available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama.



 

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