How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Program Near Mobile Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Mobile AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, including the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should 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 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 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 Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Mobile AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Mobile AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested 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.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical 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 are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Mobile AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Mobile AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Mobile AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Mobile AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Mobile Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to obtain 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 junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama.