How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene School Near Fairhope Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Fairhope AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, 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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Function of a Dental Hygienist
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 Training 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 Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort 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 a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.
Issues 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 programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. 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 Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairhope AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Fairhope AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive 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 build professional relationships in the Fairhope AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance getting their first job. Find out 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 large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the programs you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Fairhope AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fairhope AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Fairhope AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical 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.
Pick the Right Fairhope Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period 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 generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama.