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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Course Near Athens Alabama

Athens Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Athens AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, such as the school'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 complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Athens Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning 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

Dental hygienists typically need an associate's degree in dental hygiene. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in dental hygiene also are available, but are less common. A bachelor's or master's degree usually is required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs. Dental hygiene programs are commonly found in community colleges, technical schools, and universities. In 2017, the Commission on Dental Accreditation, part of the American Dental Association, accredited more than 300 dental hygiene programs. Programs typically take 2 to 3 years to complete, and offer laboratory, clinical, and classroom instruction. Areas of study include physiology, nutrition, radiography, pathology, medical ethics, anatomy, patient management, and periodontics, which is the study of gum disease. Every state requires dental hygienists to be licensed; requirements vary by state. In most states, a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program and passing grades on written and clinical examinations are required for licensure. To maintain licensure, hygienists must complete continuing education requirements. For specific requirements, contact your state's Board of Dental Examiners.

Online Dental Hygienist Schools

Athens Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist school can be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop 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 rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.

Points to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

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 discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at 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 program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Athens AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Athens AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Athens AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Athens AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Athens AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Athens AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Athens

Choose the Right Athens Dental Hygienist School

Choosing the right dental hygienist course is essential 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 alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared 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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