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How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist College Near Decatur Alabama

Decatur Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist program near Decatur AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, such as the school'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 complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Job of Dental Hygienists

Decatur Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

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 Decatur 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 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

Decatur Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a good option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Decatur AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened 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 needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right choice for you.

Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Decatur Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at 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 right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Decatur AL employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides enough 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, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Decatur AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive 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 develop professional relationships in the Decatur AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Decatur AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Find out from the colleges you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Decatur AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Decatur AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Decatur AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Decatur

Pick the Right Decatur Dental Hygienist Training

Selecting the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter 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 in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Decatur Alabama.



 

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