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How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene College Near Prattville Alabama

Prattville Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Prattville AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the college's accreditation and reputation. 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. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Function of Dental Hygienists

Prattville Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning woman's teeth

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 Training and Licensing

Dental hygienists typically need an associate's degree in dental hygiene. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in dental hygiene also are available, but are less common. A bachelor's or master's degree usually is required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs. Dental hygiene programs are commonly found in community colleges, technical schools, and universities. In 2017, the Commission on Dental Accreditation, part of the American Dental Association, accredited more than 300 dental hygiene programs. Programs typically take 2 to 3 years to complete, and offer laboratory, clinical, and classroom instruction. Areas of study include physiology, nutrition, radiography, pathology, medical ethics, anatomy, patient management, and periodontics, which is the study of gum disease. Every state requires dental hygienists to be licensed; requirements vary by state. In most states, a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program and passing grades on written and clinical examinations are required for licensure. To maintain licensure, hygienists must complete continuing education requirements. For specific requirements, contact your state's Board of Dental Examiners.

Online Dental Hygienist Schools

Prattville Alabama Dental Hygienist removing plaque from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a good option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Prattville AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.

What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prattville Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition 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 instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prattville AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select 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 college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Prattville AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Prattville AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Prattville AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Prattville AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Prattville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical 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 emergencies.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Prattville

Choose the Right Prattville Dental Hygienist School

Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative 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 numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect 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 ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prattville Alabama.



 

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