How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Mountain Brook Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Mountain Brook AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually 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 longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Job of Dental Hygienists
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who is responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases. Dental hygienists perform much of their work independently, with only general supervision from a licensed dentist. Dental hygienists are an important part of dentist-led teams. Their work removes a considerable burden from the dentist, freeing up the dentist to perform more advanced procedures. Therefore, it is quite common for dental hygienists to perform many of the preventive dental procedures in an office, such as teeth cleaning, examining patients for oral diseases and other preventative dental care. Hygienists will scrape the tartar and plaque off of your teeth and polish them. Hygienists also usually take X-rays of your teeth and gums, give patients a fluoride rinse, and apply sealants to the teeth to ward off cavities. A hygienist will also review ways to care for your teeth and overall health at home, offering tips on ways to brush and floss, and on what foods to avoid or to eat for a healthy mouth.
Dental Hygienist Schooling and LicensingHow do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Mountain Brook AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Mountain Brook AL employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Mountain Brook AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Mountain Brook AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Mountain Brook AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Mountain Brook AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Mountain Brook AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Mountain Brook Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to obtain 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning 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 right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama.