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How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist Program Near Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist program near Huntsville AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, such as the college's reputation and accreditation. 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 expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing 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 a Dental Hygienist

Huntsville Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning 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 Training and Licensing

How 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Colleges

Huntsville Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Huntsville AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like 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 needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.

Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. 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 guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Huntsville AL employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish 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 subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Huntsville AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering 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 broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Huntsville AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Huntsville AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Huntsville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Huntsville

Choose the Right Huntsville Dental Hygienist Program

Selecting the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to obtain your education 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 generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing 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 provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama.



 

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