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How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Homewood 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 performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, such as 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 cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Homewood 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 Schooling 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.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist school might be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Homewood AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal choice for you.

What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Homewood AL employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Homewood AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Homewood AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Homewood AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Homewood AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Homewood AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Homewood

Pick the Best Homewood Dental Hygienist Training

Picking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama.



 

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