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How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist college near Prichard AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, for instance the program'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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Prichard Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning 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 on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Prichard AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

In order to be licensed in almost 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 Training Options

Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Prichard Alabama dental offices are generally 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 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 practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Classes

Prichard Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally 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 convenience of your Prichard AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.

What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prichard Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Prichard AL employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical 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 ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Prichard AL dental office 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 probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Prichard AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Small? Find out from the colleges you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Prichard AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Prichard AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Prichard AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Prichard

Pick the Right Prichard Dental Hygienist Program

Picking the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to 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 appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prichard Alabama.



 

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