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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Course Near Prattville Alabama

Prattville Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Prattville AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, such as the college'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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Role of Dental Hygienists

Prattville Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young 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 Education 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.

Online Dental Hygienist Schools

Prattville Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist program may be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Prattville AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.

Questions 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 programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prattville AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Prattville AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical 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 form professional relationships in the Prattville AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Prattville AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Prattville AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 programs, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Prattville AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Prattville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Prattville

Choose the Best Prattville Dental Hygienist Training

Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter 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 appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prattville Alabama.



 

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