How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Course Near Gadsden Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Gadsden AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, for instance the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
A dental hygienist cleans teeth, examines patients for oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provides other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health. Almost all Gadsden Alabama dental hygienists work in dental offices and work closely with dentists and dental assistants. A dental hygienist uses many types of tools to do their job. They clean and polish teeth with both hand and powered tools, as well as ultrasonic devices. In some cases, hygienists remove stains with an air polishing device, which sprays a combination of air, water, and baking soda. They polish teeth with a powered tool that works like an automatic toothbrush, and use x-ray machines to take pictures to check for tooth or jaw problems. Some other tasks of a dental hygienist include:
- Removing tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth
- Applying sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth
- Taking and developing dental x-rays
- Keeping track of patient care and treatment plans
- Teaching patients oral hygiene, such as how to brush and floss correctly
Dental hygienists help patients develop and keep good oral health. They may explain the relationship between diet and oral health. They also may give advice to patients on how to select toothbrushes and other oral-care devices.
Dental Hygienist Education 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.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Gadsden AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gadsden Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. 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 Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Gadsden AL employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Gadsden AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the Gadsden AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Gadsden AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the schools you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of 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 students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gadsden AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Gadsden AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required 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 due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Gadsden Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in 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 available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gadsden Alabama.