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How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene Course Near Fairhope Alabama

Fairhope Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Fairhope 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 far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, such as the school'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 two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Fairhope Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning 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 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 Licensing

How 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

Fairhope Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist college may be a good alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component 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 continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office 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 education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best choice for you.

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

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, many prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fairhope AL employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Fairhope AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain 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 build professional relationships in the Fairhope AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs 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 internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the schools you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Fairhope AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out 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 make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Fairhope AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Fairhope

Pick the Right Fairhope Dental Hygienist School

Selecting the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning 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 presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama.



 

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