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How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Program Near Phenix City Alabama

Phenix City Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist program near Phenix City AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to consider also, including the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive 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 programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Phenix City Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Phenix City AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

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

To qualify for licensing in almost 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 in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Phenix City Alabama dental practices are usually required to have 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 virtually 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Colleges

Phenix City Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist college might be a great option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Phenix City AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.

Topics to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Phenix City AL employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Phenix City AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method 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 build professional relationships in the Phenix City AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Phenix City AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Phenix City AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check 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 college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Phenix City AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

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Choose the Best Phenix City Dental Hygienist Program

Picking the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided 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 Phenix City Alabama.



 

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