How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Gadsden Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Gadsden AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, including 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier 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 schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below
The Function of Dental Hygienists
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 Hygienist Schooling and LicensingHow 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 Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Gadsden AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gadsden Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify 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 education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Gadsden AL employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Gadsden AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Gadsden AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Gadsden AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gadsden AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Gadsden AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Gadsden Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively 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 schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gadsden Alabama.