How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Huntsville Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Huntsville AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually 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 lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at 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 Education and LicensingHow to become a dental hygienist depends on completing educational requirements, training and passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. Dental hygienists receive their education through academic programs at community colleges, technical colleges, dental schools or universities. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete, with graduates receiving associate degrees. Receipt of this degree allows a hygienist to take licensure examinations (national and state or regional), become licensed and to work in a dental office. Dental school and university-based dental hygiene programs may offer baccalaureate and master's degrees, which generally require at least two years of further schooling. These additional degrees may be required for a career in teaching and/or research, as well as for clinical practice in school or public health programs. Dental hygienists are licensed by each state to provide dental hygiene care and patient education. Almost all states require that dental hygienists be graduates of Commission on Dental Education-accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. And, almost all states require candidates for licensure to obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (a comprehensive written examination) in addition to passing the state-authorized licensure examination.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Huntsville AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order 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 education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Huntsville AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Huntsville AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, practical 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 Huntsville AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Huntsville AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Huntsville AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Huntsville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Huntsville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need 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 work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Huntsville Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose 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 better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama.