How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene College Near Northport Alabama
Choosing the right 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 analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, such as 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below
The Job 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 Northport 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 Schooling and LicensingDental 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.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Northport AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid 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 condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Northport AL employers often prefer 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 obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Northport AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. 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 create professional relationships in the Northport AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching 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 Northport AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Northport AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 programs, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Northport AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Northport AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, 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 work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Northport Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama.