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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Hoover Alabama

Hoover Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Hoover AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider as well, including 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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Hoover Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young 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 Education 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 Schools

Hoover Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist program might be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Hoover AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hoover Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid 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 almost 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 ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Hoover AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides sufficient 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, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Hoover AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Hoover AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Hoover AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Hoover AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Hoover AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Hoover

Choose the Best Hoover Dental Hygienist Training

Choosing the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous 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 education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hoover Alabama.



 

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