How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Madison Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Madison AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the school 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 college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Job 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 Madison 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 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 Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Madison AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Madison Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify 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 instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Madison AL employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Madison AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to get 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Madison AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the colleges you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Madison AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Madison AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Madison AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical 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.
Choose the Right Madison Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Madison Alabama.