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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Mountain Brook Alabama

Mountain Brook Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist program near Mountain Brook AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance 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 two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Mountain Brook Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning woman's teeth

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 Licensing

Dental hygienists typically need an associate's degree in dental hygiene. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in dental hygiene also are available, but are less common. A bachelor's or master's degree usually is required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs. Dental hygiene programs are commonly found in community colleges, technical schools, and universities. In 2017, the Commission on Dental Accreditation, part of the American Dental Association, accredited more than 300 dental hygiene programs. Programs typically take 2 to 3 years to complete, and offer laboratory, clinical, and classroom instruction. Areas of study include physiology, nutrition, radiography, pathology, medical ethics, anatomy, patient management, and periodontics, which is the study of gum disease. Every state requires dental hygienists to be licensed; requirements vary by state. In most states, a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program and passing grades on written and clinical examinations are required for licensure. To maintain licensure, hygienists must complete continuing education requirements. For specific requirements, contact your state's Board of Dental Examiners.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Mountain Brook Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a great option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Mountain Brook AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.

Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

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 discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Mountain Brook AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Mountain Brook AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to get 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 establish professional relationships in the Mountain Brook AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Mountain Brook AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Mountain Brook AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost 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 factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Mountain Brook AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Mountain Brook AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need 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 due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Mountain Brook

Choose the Best Mountain Brook Dental Hygienist Training

Choosing the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to acquire 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 usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. 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 right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama.



 

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