How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Princeton Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Princeton AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the school'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 two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Function of Dental Hygienists
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 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.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a viable option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Princeton AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental office 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 style of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Princeton Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Princeton AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Princeton AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Princeton AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Princeton AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Princeton AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Princeton AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Princeton AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Princeton Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Princeton Alabama.