How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist College Near Anniston Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Anniston AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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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 Schooling 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 Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Anniston AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental office 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 dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Anniston Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Anniston AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose provides 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, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Anniston AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Anniston AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are researching 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 community 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 programs you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Anniston AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Anniston AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Anniston AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Anniston Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to receive your education 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 community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two 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 decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Anniston Alabama.