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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Florence Alabama

Florence Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Florence AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, for instance 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 complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below

The Job of Dental Hygienists

Florence Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

Dental hygienists provide preventative oral care under a dentist's supervision. They clean patients' teeth and examine their mouths for signs of damage, gingivitis, and other diseases. Hygienists teach patients how to maintain good oral health. They also schedule appointments and keep records and may take and develop X-rays. Their scope of practice, which is the list of services they are legally allowed to deliver, differs according to the regulations of the state in which they practice. Dental hygienists generally are required to perform duties that include the following:

  • Complete a preliminary exam on each new dental service patient
  • Clean and remove stains, plaque, and tartar from teeth
  • Apply fluorides and sealants for tooth protection
  • Take dental x-rays and develop them
  • Administer local anesthetics to patients
  • Document treatment plans and care performed on patients
  • Examine each patient's oral health and communicate findings to dentists
  • Educate patients on how to care for their teeth with good oral hygiene, including proper brushing and flossing
Dental hygienists must also use several tools as part of their job. This includes hand, power, and ultrasonic tools for cleaning and polishing teeth, and x-ray machines for taking patient x-rays to check for issues with teeth and jaws.

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.

Dental Hygienist Online Colleges

Florence Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program can be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of 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 going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.

Questions to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Florence AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Florence AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional 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 Florence AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Florence AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training 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 practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Florence AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Florence AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Florence AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Florence

Pick the Right Florence Dental Hygienist Program

Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative 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 a number of alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama.



 

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