How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Montgomery Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Montgomery AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, for instance 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 longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles 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 Montgomery 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 Schooling 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 Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Montgomery AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Montgomery AL employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Montgomery AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, practical 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 develop professional relationships in the Montgomery AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Montgomery AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Montgomery AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Montgomery AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Montgomery AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Montgomery Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama.