How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene College Near Northport Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Northport AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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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 Training 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 Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Northport AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often 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 furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Northport AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Northport AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Northport AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Northport AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Northport AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Northport AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, 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 Program
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively 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 typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided 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.