How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Homewood Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Homewood AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. 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 should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at 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
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 Education and LicensingDental 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 Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a good alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Homewood AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs 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 best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Homewood AL employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Homewood AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method 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 create professional relationships in the Homewood AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Homewood AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the colleges you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Homewood AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Homewood AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Homewood AL at nights 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 practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Homewood Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period 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 programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama.