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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Program Near Pelham Alabama

Pelham Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Pelham AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, including the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Pelham Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

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 Pelham 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 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Pelham Alabama Dental Hygienist removing plaque from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist college might be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Pelham AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.

Subjects to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Pelham Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, 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 many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Pelham AL employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Pelham AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, practical 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Pelham AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Pelham AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials 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 departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Pelham AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Pelham AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need 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 because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Pelham

Choose the Best Pelham Dental Hygienist Training

Picking the right dental hygienist program is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented 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 Pelham Alabama.



 

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