How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Huntsville Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Huntsville AL is an essential first step toward beginning 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 school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, for instance 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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Duties of Dental Hygienists
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who is responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases. Dental hygienists perform much of their work independently, with only general supervision from a licensed dentist. Dental hygienists are an important part of dentist-led teams. Their work removes a considerable burden from the dentist, freeing up the dentist to perform more advanced procedures. Therefore, it is quite common for dental hygienists to perform many of the preventive dental procedures in an office, such as teeth cleaning, examining patients for oral diseases and other preventative dental care. Hygienists will scrape the tartar and plaque off of your teeth and polish them. Hygienists also usually take X-rays of your teeth and gums, give patients a fluoride rinse, and apply sealants to the teeth to ward off cavities. A hygienist will also review ways to care for your teeth and overall health at home, offering tips on ways to brush and floss, and on what foods to avoid or to eat for a healthy mouth.
Dental Hygienist Education and LicensingHow do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Huntsville AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
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, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial factors 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. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify 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 comprehensive and of the highest quality. Huntsville AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Huntsville AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to obtain 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 create professional relationships in the Huntsville AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent 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? Ask the schools you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger 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 college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Huntsville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Huntsville 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 making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Huntsville Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is important 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 options offered to receive your training 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama.