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How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Montgomery Alabama

Montgomery Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethPicking the right dental hygienist school near Montgomery AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Montgomery Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations.  Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

Dental Hygienist Education and Licensing

Individuals wanting to become dental hygienists generally have two options: associate's degree programs or bachelor's degree programs. Most associate's degree programs take just two years to finish on a full-time basis. Bachelor's programs take four years to finish but can help you qualify for better jobs as well as those that pay more. And while bachelor's programs take longer to finish, these programs often include some clinical or practical work that helps you get familiar working with patients. Becoming a dental assistant or a hygienist requires that you get your license. According to the American Dental Association, most states require that hygienists have a degree from an accredited college or university and that they take an exam called the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam. If you do not receive a passing score on this exam, you will have the chance to take it again. You may need to take a test administered by the state board as well. This test will ask general questions about oral health, teeth cleaning and other things that dental hygienists do.

Online Dental Hygienist Schools

Montgomery Alabama Dental Hygienist removing plaque from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist school might be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Montgomery AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.

Questions to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Montgomery AL employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Montgomery AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges 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 Montgomery AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Check with the schools you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Montgomery AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Montgomery AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Montgomery AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need 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 due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Montgomery

Pick the Best Montgomery Dental Hygienist Training

Picking the ideal 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 you now know, there are a number of options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire 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 normally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect 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 by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama.



 

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