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How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene School Near Florence Alabama

Florence Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Florence AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Job of Dental Hygienists

Florence Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride 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 Florence 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

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 Classes

Florence Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program might be a great option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Florence AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.

Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few 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 included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending 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 program 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. Florence AL employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Florence AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Florence AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Florence AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Florence AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Florence AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Florence

Pick the Best Florence Dental Hygienist School

Selecting the right dental hygienist course is imperative 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 numerous alternatives available 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 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 elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama.



 

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