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How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist School Near Phenix City Alabama

Phenix City Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist school near Phenix City AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important 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. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists

Phenix City Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Phenix City AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters 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. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing exams. After 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 Education Options

Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Phenix City Alabama dental practices are often 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 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 practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs

Phenix City Alabama Dental Hygienist removing plaque from woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Phenix City AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal choice for you.

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. 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 schools. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial factors 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. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Phenix City AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Phenix City AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Phenix City AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Phenix City AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs 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 include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Phenix City AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Phenix City AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

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Pick the Best Phenix City Dental Hygienist Program

Picking the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama.



 

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