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How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist college near Homewood AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, such as the college'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. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride 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 Training 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.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Homewood Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a great option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Homewood AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.

Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are a few 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 assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Homewood AL employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Homewood AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective 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 develop professional relationships in the Homewood AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Homewood AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Homewood AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs 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 come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out 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 must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Homewood AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

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Choose the Best Homewood Dental Hygienist School

Picking the right dental hygienist course 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 training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Homewood Alabama.



 

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