How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Program Near Phenix City Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Phenix City AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, including 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 longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Job 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 Schooling 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.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Phenix City AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of 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 relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order 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 education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Phenix City AL employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Phenix City AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to obtain 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 form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job assistance 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 in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the programs you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Phenix City AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Phenix City AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Phenix City AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Phenix City Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you intend 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 options offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount 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 receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama.