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

Selma Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Selma AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, including the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Role of Dental Hygienists

Selma Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

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 hygienists must also use several tools as part of their job. This includes hand, power, and ultrasonic tools for cleaning and polishing teeth, and x-ray machines for taking patient x-rays to check for issues with teeth and jaws.

Dental Hygienist Training and Licensing

How 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 Training Programs

Selma Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Selma AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.

Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Selma Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Selma AL employers typically 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 provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Selma AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain 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 form professional relationships in the Selma AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Selma AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Check with the programs you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Selma AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Selma AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Selma AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Selma

Pick the Right Selma Dental Hygienist Training

Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend 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 selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Selma Alabama.



 

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