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How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Course Near Athens Alabama

Athens Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist college near Athens AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, including the program'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 cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs 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 Function of a Dental Hygienist

Athens Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning 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.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Athens Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist school can be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Athens AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.

Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Athens Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. 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 Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Athens AL employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm 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 schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Athens AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Find out from the programs you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Athens AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses 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 associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Athens AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Athens AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Athens

Pick the Right Athens Dental Hygienist Program

Choosing the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose 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 in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Athens Alabama.



 

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