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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene School Near Montgomery Alabama

Montgomery Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Montgomery AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant 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. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Montgomery Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

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 Licensing

How 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.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Montgomery Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist college might be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Montgomery AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened 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 needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.

Points to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Montgomery AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Montgomery AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Montgomery AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Montgomery 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 Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. 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 programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Montgomery AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Montgomery AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical 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.

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Choose the Best Montgomery Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is essential 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 a number of options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama.



 

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