How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Dothan Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Dothan AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the college'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 complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
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 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 Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Dothan AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional 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 necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. 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, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Dothan AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Dothan AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the schools you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Dothan AL dental hygienist school 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 Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Dothan AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Dothan AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Dothan Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial 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 several alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama.