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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene Course Near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Homewood AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

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 Homewood 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 Schooling and Licensing

Dental hygienists typically need an associate's degree in dental hygiene. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in dental hygiene also are available, but are less common. A bachelor's or master's degree usually is required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs. Dental hygiene programs are commonly found in community colleges, technical schools, and universities. In 2017, the Commission on Dental Accreditation, part of the American Dental Association, accredited more than 300 dental hygiene programs. Programs typically take 2 to 3 years to complete, and offer laboratory, clinical, and classroom instruction. Areas of study include physiology, nutrition, radiography, pathology, medical ethics, anatomy, patient management, and periodontics, which is the study of gum disease. Every state requires dental hygienists to be licensed; requirements vary by state. In most states, a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program and passing grades on written and clinical examinations are required for licensure. To maintain licensure, hygienists must complete continuing education requirements. For specific requirements, contact your state's Board of Dental Examiners.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist college can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Homewood AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order 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 get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Homewood AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Homewood AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching 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 Homewood 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 schools you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Homewood AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check 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 make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Homewood AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Homewood

Choose the Right Homewood Dental Hygienist Program

Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing 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.



 

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