How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist School Near Prattville Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Prattville AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Duties 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 Prattville 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 might be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Prattville AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional 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 needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prattville Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prattville AL employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose offers adequate 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, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Prattville AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to receive 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 create professional relationships in the Prattville AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Prattville AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the schools you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Prattville AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Prattville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Prattville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Prattville Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prattville Alabama.