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How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Auburn Alabama

Auburn Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethPicking the right dental hygienist program near Auburn AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, for instance the college's reputation and accreditation. 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 finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Auburn 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Auburn Alabama Dental Hygienist removing plaque from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Auburn AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal choice for you.

Points to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Auburn Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Auburn AL employers frequently 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 provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want 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 Auburn AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to obtain 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 as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Auburn AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Auburn AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs 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 colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Auburn AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Auburn AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Auburn

Choose the Right Auburn Dental Hygienist Training

Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative 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 offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two 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 elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Auburn Alabama.



 

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