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How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene College Near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist program near Dothan AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must 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 take into account as well, including 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 accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Dothan Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride 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 Dothan 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 Education 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 Colleges

Dothan Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a viable option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Dothan AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.

Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Dothan AL employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose 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, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Dothan AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain 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 establish professional relationships in the Dothan AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance landing their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Dothan AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Dothan AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Dothan AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Dothan AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Dothan

Pick the Best Dothan Dental Hygienist Training

Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama.



 

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