How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Anniston Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Anniston AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance 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 two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
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 Hygienist Education and LicensingHow to become a dental hygienist depends on completing educational requirements, training and passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. Dental hygienists receive their education through academic programs at community colleges, technical colleges, dental schools or universities. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete, with graduates receiving associate degrees. Receipt of this degree allows a hygienist to take licensure examinations (national and state or regional), become licensed and to work in a dental office. Dental school and university-based dental hygiene programs may offer baccalaureate and master's degrees, which generally require at least two years of further schooling. These additional degrees may be required for a career in teaching and/or research, as well as for clinical practice in school or public health programs. Dental hygienists are licensed by each state to provide dental hygiene care and patient education. Almost all states require that dental hygienists be graduates of Commission on Dental Education-accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. And, almost all states require candidates for licensure to obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (a comprehensive written examination) in addition to passing the state-authorized licensure examination.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a good option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Anniston AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the right option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Anniston Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Anniston AL employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Anniston AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain 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 develop professional relationships in the Anniston AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Anniston AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Anniston AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total 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 factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Anniston AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Anniston AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Anniston Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing 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 numerous alternatives offered to acquire your training 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Anniston Alabama.