How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Huntsville Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Huntsville AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. 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 accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
A dental hygienist cleans teeth, examines patients for oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provides other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health. Almost all Huntsville Alabama dental hygienists work in dental offices and work closely with dentists and dental assistants. A dental hygienist uses many types of tools to do their job. They clean and polish teeth with both hand and powered tools, as well as ultrasonic devices. In some cases, hygienists remove stains with an air polishing device, which sprays a combination of air, water, and baking soda. They polish teeth with a powered tool that works like an automatic toothbrush, and use x-ray machines to take pictures to check for tooth or jaw problems. Some other tasks of a dental hygienist include:
- Removing tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth
- Applying sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth
- Taking and developing dental x-rays
- Keeping track of patient care and treatment plans
- Teaching patients oral hygiene, such as how to brush and floss correctly
Dental hygienists help patients develop and keep good oral health. They may explain the relationship between diet and oral health. They also may give advice to patients on how to select toothbrushes and other oral-care devices.
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.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Huntsville AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Huntsville AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select offers sufficient 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 college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Huntsville AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal 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 build professional relationships in the Huntsville AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Huntsville AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Huntsville AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Huntsville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Huntsville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Huntsville Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. 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 by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama.