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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist Program Near Athens Alabama

Athens Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist program near Athens AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, such as 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 two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing 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

Athens Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations.  Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

Dental Hygienist Schooling and Licensing

How 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 Classes

Athens Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Athens AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.

Questions to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Athens Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Athens AL employers typically 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 schools.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Athens AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, practical 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Athens AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Check with the schools you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Athens AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Athens AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Athens AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Athens

Pick the Best Athens Dental Hygienist School

Selecting the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning 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 presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Athens Alabama.



 

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