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How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Selma Alabama

Selma Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist college near Selma AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, 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 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally 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 colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Role of Dental Hygienists

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.

Online Dental Hygienist Classes

Selma Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist college may be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Selma AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Selma Alabama, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Selma AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Selma AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help 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 look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Selma AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Selma AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Selma AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Selma AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required 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 responsibilities.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Selma

Choose the Best Selma Dental Hygienist Training

Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is essential 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 several alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Selma Alabama.



 

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