How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Huntsville Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Huntsville AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, including the school'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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties 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 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.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a good option for obtaining your education. Just remember 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 accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Huntsville AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Huntsville 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 cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Huntsville AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Huntsville AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Huntsville AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Huntsville AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example 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 significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Huntsville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Huntsville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Huntsville Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama.