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How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Bessemer Alabama

Bessemer Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Bessemer AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the program'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. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below

The Job of Dental Hygienists

Bessemer Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride 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 Schooling 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 Classes

Bessemer Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Bessemer AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice for you.

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Bessemer Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided 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 School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Bessemer AL employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Bessemer AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical 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 professional relationships in the Bessemer AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Bessemer AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Bessemer AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with 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 colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Bessemer AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Bessemer AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Bessemer

Pick the Best Bessemer Dental Hygienist Program

Selecting the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive 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 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 ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Bessemer Alabama.



 

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