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

Dothan Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Dothan AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Function of Dental Hygienists

Dothan Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning 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 Training and Licensing

Dental hygienists typically need an associate's degree in dental hygiene. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in dental hygiene also are available, but are less common. A bachelor's or master's degree usually is required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs. Dental hygiene programs are commonly found in community colleges, technical schools, and universities. In 2017, the Commission on Dental Accreditation, part of the American Dental Association, accredited more than 300 dental hygiene programs. Programs typically take 2 to 3 years to complete, and offer laboratory, clinical, and classroom instruction. Areas of study include physiology, nutrition, radiography, pathology, medical ethics, anatomy, patient management, and periodontics, which is the study of gum disease. Every state requires dental hygienists to be licensed; requirements vary by state. In most states, a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program and passing grades on written and clinical examinations are required for licensure. To maintain licensure, hygienists must complete continuing education requirements. For specific requirements, contact your state's Board of Dental Examiners.

Dental Hygienist Online Schools

Dothan Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist college may be a good alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Dothan 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 obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.

Subjects to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Dothan AL employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Dothan AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get 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 form professional relationships in the Dothan AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Dothan AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one 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 leaning toward so that you can 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 differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Dothan AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Dothan AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Dothan

Pick the Right Dothan Dental Hygienist Training

Picking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama.



 

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