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

Tuscaloosa Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethPicking the right dental hygienist program near Tuscaloosa AL is an essential initial step toward beginning 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 school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, including the college'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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists

Tuscaloosa Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride 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 Schooling 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.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Tuscaloosa Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Tuscaloosa AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Tuscaloosa Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. 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 school 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. Tuscaloosa AL employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Tuscaloosa AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Tuscaloosa AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Small? Ask the schools you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Tuscaloosa 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 Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of colleges, 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 offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Tuscaloosa AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Tuscaloosa AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have 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 because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Tuscaloosa

Pick the Right Tuscaloosa Dental Hygienist School

Selecting the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend 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 right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Tuscaloosa Alabama.



 

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