How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Birmingham Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Birmingham AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the program'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 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who is responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases. Dental hygienists perform much of their work independently, with only general supervision from a licensed dentist. Dental hygienists are an important part of dentist-led teams. Their work removes a considerable burden from the dentist, freeing up the dentist to perform more advanced procedures. Therefore, it is quite common for dental hygienists to perform many of the preventive dental procedures in an office, such as teeth cleaning, examining patients for oral diseases and other preventative dental care. Hygienists will scrape the tartar and plaque off of your teeth and polish them. Hygienists also usually take X-rays of your teeth and gums, give patients a fluoride rinse, and apply sealants to the teeth to ward off cavities. A hygienist will also review ways to care for your teeth and overall health at home, offering tips on ways to brush and floss, and on what foods to avoid or to eat for a healthy mouth.
Dental Hygienist Schooling and LicensingHow 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 Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Birmingham AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Birmingham Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Birmingham AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Birmingham AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Birmingham AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Birmingham AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public 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 comparing the cost of schools, 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 offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Birmingham AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Birmingham 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 protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Birmingham Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Birmingham Alabama.