How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Mobile Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Mobile AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, such as 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 two to three years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Function 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 Mobile 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 Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist college can be a good alternative for getting 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 rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Mobile AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs 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 ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Mobile AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select offers sufficient 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, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Mobile AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Mobile AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Mobile AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Mobile AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Mobile AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Mobile Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama.