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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist program near Oxford AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as the college'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 complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Job of Dental Hygienists

Oxford Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride woman's teeth

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 hygienists must also use several tools as part of their job. This includes hand, power, and ultrasonic tools for cleaning and polishing teeth, and x-ray machines for taking patient x-rays to check for issues with teeth and jaws.

Dental Hygienist Education and Licensing

Dental 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 Programs

Oxford Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a viable 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 balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Oxford AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many 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 prerequisite in virtually 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oxford AL employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Oxford AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, clinical 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 Oxford AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Oxford AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Oxford AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 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 practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides 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 analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Oxford AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Oxford AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Oxford

Pick the Right Oxford Dental Hygienist Training

Choosing the right dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama.



 

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