How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program Near Princeton Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Princeton AL is an important first step toward launching 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 doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually 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 explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists provide preventative oral care under a dentist's supervision. They clean patients' teeth and examine their mouths for signs of damage, gingivitis, and other diseases. Hygienists teach patients how to maintain good oral health. They also schedule appointments and keep records and may take and develop X-rays. Their scope of practice, which is the list of services they are legally allowed to deliver, differs according to the regulations of the state in which they practice. Dental hygienists generally are required to perform duties that include the following:
- Complete a preliminary exam on each new dental service patient
- Clean and remove stains, plaque, and tartar from teeth
- Apply fluorides and sealants for tooth protection
- Take dental x-rays and develop them
- Administer local anesthetics to patients
- Document treatment plans and care performed on patients
- Examine each patient's oral health and communicate findings to dentists
- Educate patients on how to care for their teeth with good oral hygiene, including proper brushing and flossing
Dental Hygienist Training 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 Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Princeton AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Princeton Alabama, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify 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 instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Princeton AL employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Princeton AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Princeton AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Princeton AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Princeton AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Princeton AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Princeton AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select 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 illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Princeton Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your training 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 junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Princeton Alabama.