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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Training Program Near Northport Alabama

Northport Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Northport AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the program's accreditation and reputation. 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. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Northport 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

How 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 Training

Northport Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist college can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Northport AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best choice for you.

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in 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 Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Northport AL employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Northport AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method 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 create professional relationships in the Northport AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Northport AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Check with the schools you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Northport AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Northport AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Northport AL at nights 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 practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Northport

Pick the Right Northport Dental Hygienist Training

Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama.



 

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