How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene College Near Phenix City Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Phenix City AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, including the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below
The Function 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 Phenix City 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 LicensingHow 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 Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Phenix City AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program 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 requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, 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. Phenix City AL employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Phenix City AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, practical 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 establish professional relationships in the Phenix City AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools 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 Phenix City AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Phenix City AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. 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 examining the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Phenix City AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Phenix City AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Phenix City Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama.