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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Selma Alabama

Selma Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Selma AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance 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 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Selma Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young 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 Selma 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 Education 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs

Selma Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist college can be a good option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Selma AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Selma 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 location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Selma AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Selma AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best 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 build professional relationships in the Selma AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Selma AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Selma AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example 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 costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Selma AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Selma AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Selma

Pick the Right Selma Dental Hygienist Program

Selecting 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 you now know, there are many options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Selma Alabama.



 

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