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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Program Near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Oxford AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, for instance the school'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 accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Oxford Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young 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

How 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 Classes

Oxford Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Oxford AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.

Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oxford AL employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical 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 type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Oxford AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Oxford AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the colleges you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Oxford AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Oxford AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Oxford AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Oxford

Pick the Best Oxford Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally 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 addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama.



 

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