How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Program Near Homewood Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Homewood AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, 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 complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and additional 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 provided.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who is responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases. Dental hygienists perform much of their work independently, with only general supervision from a licensed dentist. Dental hygienists are an important part of dentist-led teams. Their work removes a considerable burden from the dentist, freeing up the dentist to perform more advanced procedures. Therefore, it is quite common for dental hygienists to perform many of the preventive dental procedures in an office, such as teeth cleaning, examining patients for oral diseases and other preventative dental care. Hygienists will scrape the tartar and plaque off of your teeth and polish them. Hygienists also usually take X-rays of your teeth and gums, give patients a fluoride rinse, and apply sealants to the teeth to ward off cavities. A hygienist will also review ways to care for your teeth and overall health at home, offering tips on ways to brush and floss, and on what foods to avoid or to eat for a healthy mouth.
Dental Hygienist Education and LicensingIndividuals wanting to become dental hygienists generally have two options: associate's degree programs or bachelor's degree programs. Most associate's degree programs take just two years to finish on a full-time basis. Bachelor's programs take four years to finish but can help you qualify for better jobs as well as those that pay more. And while bachelor's programs take longer to finish, these programs often include some clinical or practical work that helps you get familiar working with patients. Becoming a dental assistant or a hygienist requires that you get your license. According to the American Dental Association, most states require that hygienists have a degree from an accredited college or university and that they take an exam called the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam. If you do not receive a passing score on this exam, you will have the chance to take it again. You may need to take a test administered by the state board as well. This test will ask general questions about oral health, teeth cleaning and other things that dental hygienists do.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Homewood AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options also. Although these may be relevant initial factors 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 ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Homewood AL employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in provides adequate 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, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Homewood AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Homewood AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Homewood AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Homewood AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Homewood AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Homewood Dental Hygienist School
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative 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 options available to obtain your training 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama.