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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Auburn Alabama

Auburn Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Auburn AL is an essential first 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 much more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, for instance the school'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 finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs 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 Job of Dental Hygienists

Auburn Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

Dental hygienists provide preventative oral care under a dentist's supervision. They clean patients' teeth and examine their mouths for signs of damage, gingivitis, and other diseases. Hygienists teach patients how to maintain good oral health. They also schedule appointments and keep records and may take and develop X-rays. Their scope of practice, which is the list of services they are legally allowed to deliver, differs according to the regulations of the state in which they practice. Dental hygienists generally are required to perform duties that include the following:

  • Complete a preliminary exam on each new dental service patient
  • Clean and remove stains, plaque, and tartar from teeth
  • Apply fluorides and sealants for tooth protection
  • Take dental x-rays and develop them
  • Administer local anesthetics to patients
  • Document treatment plans and care performed on patients
  • Examine each patient's oral health and communicate findings to dentists
  • Educate patients on how to care for their teeth with good oral hygiene, including proper brushing and flossing
Dental hygienists must also use several tools as part of their job. This includes hand, power, and ultrasonic tools for cleaning and polishing teeth, and x-ray machines for taking patient x-rays to check for issues with teeth and jaws.

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.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Auburn Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Auburn AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Auburn Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Auburn AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Auburn AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to receive 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 create professional relationships in the Auburn AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Auburn AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Auburn AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 analyzing 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 find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Auburn AL area.

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

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Auburn

Choose the Right Auburn Dental Hygienist Program

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education 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 junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Auburn Alabama.



 

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