How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Hoover Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Hoover AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, including the program'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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Job of Dental Hygienists
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 Hygienist Schooling 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 Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Hoover AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal choice for you.
Points 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 schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are comparing 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 final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition 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 establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Hoover AL employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Hoover AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Hoover AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Hoover AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, 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 expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Hoover AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Hoover AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Hoover Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial 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 numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking 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 Hoover Alabama.