How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene College Near Enterprise Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Enterprise AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to consider as well, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Role 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 Enterprise 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 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 Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Enterprise AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Enterprise Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Although these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. 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 Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Enterprise AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Enterprise AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Enterprise AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Enterprise AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Enterprise AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Enterprise AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required 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 because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Enterprise Dental Hygienist School
Choosing 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 alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Enterprise Alabama.