How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist School Near Bessemer Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Bessemer AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
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 Bessemer 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 Schooling and LicensingDental 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 Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Bessemer AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Bessemer Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually 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. Bessemer AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Bessemer AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 form professional relationships in the Bessemer AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Check 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 profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Bessemer AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the length 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 besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Bessemer AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Bessemer AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, 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 work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Bessemer Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is important 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 options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Bessemer Alabama.