How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Program Near Fairhope Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Fairhope AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including 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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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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 Fairhope 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 LicensingDental 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.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Fairhope AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options also. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at 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 best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid 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 nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairhope AL employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Fairhope AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective 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 professional relationships in the Fairhope AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering 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 Fairhope AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large 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 Fairhope AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether 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 costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fairhope AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Fairhope AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Fairhope Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education 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 typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama.