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How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Athens Alabama

Athens Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Athens AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing 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 crucial issues to consider as well, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Athens Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

A dental hygienist cleans teeth, examines patients for oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provides other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health. Almost all Athens Alabama dental hygienists work in dental offices and work closely with dentists and dental assistants. A dental hygienist uses many types of tools to do their job. They clean and polish teeth with both hand and powered tools, as well as ultrasonic devices. In some cases, hygienists remove stains with an air polishing device, which sprays a combination of air, water, and baking soda. They polish teeth with a powered tool that works like an automatic toothbrush, and use x-ray machines to take pictures to check for tooth or jaw problems. Some other tasks of a dental hygienist include:

  • Removing tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth
  • Applying sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth
  • Taking and developing dental x-rays
  • Keeping track of patient care and treatment plans
  • Teaching patients oral hygiene, such as how to brush and floss correctly

Dental hygienists help patients develop and keep good oral health. They may explain the relationship between diet and oral health. They also may give advice to patients on how to select toothbrushes and other oral-care devices.

Dental Hygienist Training and Licensing

How 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Athens Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind 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 via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Athens AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal choice for you.

Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Athens Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Athens AL employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Athens AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method 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 create professional relationships in the Athens AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

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

Are Classes Small? Ask the schools you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Athens AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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 comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Athens AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Athens AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Athens

Choose the Best Athens Dental Hygienist School

Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Athens Alabama.



 

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