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

Foley Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Foley AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, for instance the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Foley Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations.  Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

Dental Hygienist Training and Licensing

How 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

Foley Alabama Dental Hygienist removing plaque from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Foley AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.

Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Foley Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Foley AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Foley AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means 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 establish professional relationships in the Foley AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Foley AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Foley AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Total 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 variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks 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 check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Foley AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Foley AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Foley

Choose the Right Foley Dental Hygienist Training

Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Foley Alabama.



 

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