How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist School Near Princeton Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Princeton AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, including the program's reputation and accreditation. 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 complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Role 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 Education and LicensingDental 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.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a great option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Princeton 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. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the right option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
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 covered at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Princeton AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Princeton AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges 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 position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater 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 attend a couple of classes at the Princeton AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public 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 schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Princeton AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Princeton AL at nights 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 have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Princeton Dental Hygienist School
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount 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 programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Princeton Alabama.