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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Fairhope Alabama

Fairhope Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist program near Fairhope AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as the college'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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Role of Dental Hygienists

Fairhope Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride 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

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 Programs

Fairhope Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program can be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Fairhope AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.

What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important 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 Examination, your dental school 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. Fairhope AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For 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 Fairhope AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Fairhope AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Fairhope AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fairhope AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Fairhope AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Fairhope

Choose the Best Fairhope Dental Hygienist School

Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend 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 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing 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 presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama.



 

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