How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist School Near Mountain Brook Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Mountain Brook AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, for instance 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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about 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 explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Role 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 Mountain Brook 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 Education 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 program may be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Mountain Brook AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Mountain Brook AL employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Mountain Brook AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to get 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 form professional relationships in the Mountain Brook AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Mountain Brook AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the schools you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Mountain Brook AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to 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 schools can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Mountain Brook AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Mountain Brook AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Mountain Brook Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is important 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 several options available to obtain your education 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 community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama.