How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Course Near Montgomery Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Montgomery AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, including the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties of Dental Hygienists
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 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 Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a good option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Montgomery AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.
What 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 schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at 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 college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Montgomery AL employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Montgomery AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at 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 broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the schools you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Montgomery AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges 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 schools, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Montgomery AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Montgomery AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Montgomery Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you want 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 receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama.