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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Phenix City Alabama

Phenix City Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist college near Phenix City AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, 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 complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at 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 Function of a Dental Hygienist

Phenix City Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride woman's teeth

Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations.  Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

Dental Hygienist Training and Licensing

How do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Phenix City Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Phenix City AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical 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 dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.

Points to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid 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 prerequisite in virtually 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 guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Phenix City AL employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Phenix City AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive 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 professional relationships in the Phenix City AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Phenix City AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Small? Check with the schools you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Phenix City AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate 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 whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Phenix City AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Phenix City AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, 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 because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Phenix City

Pick the Right Phenix City Dental Hygienist Program

Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama.



 

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