How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Athens Alabama
Selecting 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 need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, including the program'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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Duties of Dental Hygienists
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who is responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases. Dental hygienists perform much of their work independently, with only general supervision from a licensed dentist. Dental hygienists are an important part of dentist-led teams. Their work removes a considerable burden from the dentist, freeing up the dentist to perform more advanced procedures. Therefore, it is quite common for dental hygienists to perform many of the preventive dental procedures in an office, such as teeth cleaning, examining patients for oral diseases and other preventative dental care. Hygienists will scrape the tartar and plaque off of your teeth and polish them. Hygienists also usually take X-rays of your teeth and gums, give patients a fluoride rinse, and apply sealants to the teeth to ward off cavities. A hygienist will also review ways to care for your teeth and overall health at home, offering tips on ways to brush and floss, and on what foods to avoid or to eat for a healthy mouth.
Dental Hygienist Training and LicensingHow do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist program might be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Athens AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically 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 method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Athens Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Athens AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Athens AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get 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 Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the colleges 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 Athens AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Athens AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Athens AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm 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 go to classes near Athens AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Athens Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend 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 ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Athens Alabama.