How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Mobile Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Mobile AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, 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. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Job 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 Schooling 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 Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Mobile AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are reviewing 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 final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Mobile AL employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Mobile AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Mobile AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Mobile AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Mobile AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Mobile AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Mobile Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama.