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How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene Program Near Foley Alabama

Foley Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Foley AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, such as the school'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 finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating 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 Role of a Dental Hygienist

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 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 Training

Foley Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist college can be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Foley AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best choice 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 process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Foley AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Foley AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Foley AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask 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 witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Foley AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Foley AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Foley

Pick the Right Foley Dental Hygienist School

Choosing the right dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Foley Alabama.



 

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