How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist Program Near Northport Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Northport AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally 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 cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing 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 Role of Dental Hygienists
Dental hygienists provide preventative oral care under a dentist's supervision. They clean patients' teeth and examine their mouths for signs of damage, gingivitis, and other diseases. Hygienists teach patients how to maintain good oral health. They also schedule appointments and keep records and may take and develop X-rays. Their scope of practice, which is the list of services they are legally allowed to deliver, differs according to the regulations of the state in which they practice. Dental hygienists generally are required to perform duties that include the following:
- Complete a preliminary exam on each new dental service patient
- Clean and remove stains, plaque, and tartar from teeth
- Apply fluorides and sealants for tooth protection
- Take dental x-rays and develop them
- Administer local anesthetics to patients
- Document treatment plans and care performed on patients
- Examine each patient's oral health and communicate findings to dentists
- Educate patients on how to care for their teeth with good oral hygiene, including proper brushing and flossing
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.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Northport AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Northport AL employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative 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. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Northport AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help 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 look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Check 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 profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the schools you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Northport AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to 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 comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered 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 confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Northport AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required 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 illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Northport Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to acquire 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to 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 ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama.