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How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Vestavia Hills Alabama

Vestavia Hills Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist program near Vestavia Hills AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, including the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Vestavia Hills Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning 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

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 Colleges

Vestavia Hills Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Vestavia Hills AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often 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 appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.

Topics to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Vestavia Hills AL employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Vestavia Hills AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method 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 develop professional relationships in the Vestavia Hills AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools 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 Vestavia Hills AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Vestavia Hills AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Vestavia Hills AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Vestavia Hills AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Vestavia Hills

Pick the Right Vestavia Hills Dental Hygienist Program

Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively 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 typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. 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 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 Vestavia Hills Alabama.



 

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