How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Montgomery Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Montgomery AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 accomplish. Obviously 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 colleges you are looking at 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
Dental hygienists provide preventative oral care under a dentist's supervision. They clean patients' teeth and examine their mouths for signs of damage, gingivitis, and other diseases. Hygienists teach patients how to maintain good oral health. They also schedule appointments and keep records and may take and develop X-rays. Their scope of practice, which is the list of services they are legally allowed to deliver, differs according to the regulations of the state in which they practice. Dental hygienists generally are required to perform duties that include the following:
- Complete a preliminary exam on each new dental service patient
- Clean and remove stains, plaque, and tartar from teeth
- Apply fluorides and sealants for tooth protection
- Take dental x-rays and develop them
- Administer local anesthetics to patients
- Document treatment plans and care performed on patients
- Examine each patient's oral health and communicate findings to dentists
- Educate patients on how to care for their teeth with good oral hygiene, including proper brushing and flossing
Dental Hygienist Training 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.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a good option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Montgomery AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are looking at 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 good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Montgomery AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Montgomery AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive 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 develop professional relationships in the Montgomery AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering 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 Montgomery AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Montgomery AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers 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 volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs 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 Montgomery AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Montgomery AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Montgomery Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 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 appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama.