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How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist program near Birmingham AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, such as 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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Birmingham Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning 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

How to become a dental hygienist depends on completing educational requirements, training and passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. Dental hygienists receive their education through academic programs at community colleges, technical colleges, dental schools or universities. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete, with graduates receiving associate degrees. Receipt of this degree allows a hygienist to take licensure examinations (national and state or regional), become licensed and to work in a dental office. Dental school and university-based dental hygiene programs may offer baccalaureate and master's degrees, which generally require at least two years of further schooling. These additional degrees may be required for a career in teaching and/or research, as well as for clinical practice in school or public health programs. Dental hygienists are licensed by each state to provide dental hygiene care and patient education. Almost all states require that dental hygienists be graduates of Commission on Dental Education-accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. And, almost all states require candidates for licensure to obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (a comprehensive written examination) in addition to passing the state-authorized licensure examination.

Online Dental Hygienist Schools

Birmingham Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist college may be a great option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Birmingham AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.

What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Birmingham Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, 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 supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Birmingham AL employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an 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 Birmingham AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method 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 professional relationships in the Birmingham AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Birmingham AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Birmingham AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Birmingham AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Birmingham AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Birmingham

Choose the Best Birmingham Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Birmingham Alabama.



 

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