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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Foley Alabama

Foley Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Foley AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, such as the college'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 lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at 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 Job of Dental Hygienists

Foley Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning 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 Education 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 Programs

Foley Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Foley AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best choice for you.

What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Foley Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to 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 best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Foley AL employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind 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 school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Foley AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get hands-on, clinical 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Foley AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Foley AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 examining the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Foley AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Foley AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Foley

Pick the Best Foley Dental Hygienist Program

Selecting the right dental hygienist program is important 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 available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount 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 typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Foley Alabama.



 

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