How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Vestavia Hills AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Role of Dental Hygienists
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 Vestavia Hills 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 Training and LicensingHow 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
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Vestavia Hills AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Vestavia Hills AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Vestavia Hills AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Vestavia Hills AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Vestavia Hills AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to 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 associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find 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 school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Vestavia Hills AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Vestavia Hills Dental Hygienist School
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered 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 community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama.