How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Fairhope Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Fairhope AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, such as 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 finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Role of Dental Hygienists
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who is responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases. Dental hygienists perform much of their work independently, with only general supervision from a licensed dentist. Dental hygienists are an important part of dentist-led teams. Their work removes a considerable burden from the dentist, freeing up the dentist to perform more advanced procedures. Therefore, it is quite common for dental hygienists to perform many of the preventive dental procedures in an office, such as teeth cleaning, examining patients for oral diseases and other preventative dental care. Hygienists will scrape the tartar and plaque off of your teeth and polish them. Hygienists also usually take X-rays of your teeth and gums, give patients a fluoride rinse, and apply sealants to the teeth to ward off cavities. A hygienist will also review ways to care for your teeth and overall health at home, offering tips on ways to brush and floss, and on what foods to avoid or to eat for a healthy mouth.
Dental Hygienist Schooling and LicensingHow do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Fairhope AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical 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 receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. 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 look for several online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee 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 last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Fairhope AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real 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 Fairhope AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fairhope AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the schools you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Fairhope AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fairhope AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Fairhope AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Fairhope Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama.