How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Decatur Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Decatur AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, such as the college'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 two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Function 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 might be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Decatur AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be completed 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 style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Decatur Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Decatur AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical 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 type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Decatur AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, clinical 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 are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Decatur AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Decatur AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Decatur AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Decatur AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose 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 illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Decatur Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to acquire 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 junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Decatur Alabama.