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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Alabaster Alabama

Alabaster Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist program near Alabaster AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, including the college'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 two to three years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below

The Job of Dental Hygienists

Alabaster Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning woman's teeth

Dental hygienists provide preventative oral care under a dentist's supervision. They clean patients' teeth and examine their mouths for signs of damage, gingivitis, and other diseases. Hygienists teach patients how to maintain good oral health. They also schedule appointments and keep records and may take and develop X-rays. Their scope of practice, which is the list of services they are legally allowed to deliver, differs according to the regulations of the state in which they practice. Dental hygienists generally are required to perform duties that include the following:

  • Complete a preliminary exam on each new dental service patient
  • Clean and remove stains, plaque, and tartar from teeth
  • Apply fluorides and sealants for tooth protection
  • Take dental x-rays and develop them
  • Administer local anesthetics to patients
  • Document treatment plans and care performed on patients
  • Examine each patient's oral health and communicate findings to dentists
  • Educate patients on how to care for their teeth with good oral hygiene, including proper brushing and flossing
Dental hygienists must also use several tools as part of their job. This includes hand, power, and ultrasonic tools for cleaning and polishing teeth, and x-ray machines for taking patient x-rays to check for issues with teeth and jaws.

Dental Hygienist Education and Licensing

Dental hygienists typically need an associate's degree in dental hygiene. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in dental hygiene also are available, but are less common. A bachelor's or master's degree usually is required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs. Dental hygiene programs are commonly found in community colleges, technical schools, and universities. In 2017, the Commission on Dental Accreditation, part of the American Dental Association, accredited more than 300 dental hygiene programs. Programs typically take 2 to 3 years to complete, and offer laboratory, clinical, and classroom instruction. Areas of study include physiology, nutrition, radiography, pathology, medical ethics, anatomy, patient management, and periodontics, which is the study of gum disease. Every state requires dental hygienists to be licensed; requirements vary by state. In most states, a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program and passing grades on written and clinical examinations are required for licensure. To maintain licensure, hygienists must complete continuing education requirements. For specific requirements, contact your state's Board of Dental Examiners.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Alabaster Alabama Dental Hygienist removing plaque from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Alabaster AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical 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 provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the right choice for you.

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Alabaster Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Alabaster AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Alabaster AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for 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 too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Alabaster AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Alabaster AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Alabaster AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Alabaster AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical 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 issues.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Alabaster

Choose the Right Alabaster Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period 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 usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Alabaster Alabama.



 

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