How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Program Near Dothan Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Dothan AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
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 Hygienist Schooling and LicensingHow 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 Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist college can be a good option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Dothan 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 obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify 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 comprehensive and of the highest quality. Dothan AL employers often desire 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 programs.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Dothan AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive 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 build professional relationships in the Dothan AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Dothan AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Dothan AL dental hygienist school 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 Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Dothan AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Dothan AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Dothan Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented 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 Dothan Alabama.