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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Program Near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Troy AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, for instance the college's reputation and accreditation. 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. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Troy Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride woman's teeth

Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations.  Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

Dental Hygienist Training and Licensing

How do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.

Dental Hygienist Online Colleges

Troy Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist school can be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Troy AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right choice for you.

Topics to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Troy Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options also. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Troy AL employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program 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, make sure that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Troy AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to get 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Troy AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Troy AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Troy AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Troy AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol 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 Troy

Choose the Best Troy Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning 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 provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Troy Alabama.



 

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