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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist School Near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Dothan AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, for instance the college's accreditation and reputation. 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Role of Dental Hygienists

Dothan Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young 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 Schooling 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Schools

Dothan Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely 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 Dothan AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.

What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening 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 also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school 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. Dothan AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Dothan AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Dothan AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Small? Find out from the programs you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Dothan AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Dothan AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Dothan AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Dothan

Choose the Right Dothan Dental Hygienist Training

Selecting the right dental hygienist course is imperative 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 receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama.



 

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