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

Vestavia Hills Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Vestavia Hills AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as 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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Vestavia Hills Alabama Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young 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 Schooling 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.

Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs

Vestavia Hills Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Vestavia Hills AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right option for you.

Questions to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify 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 prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Vestavia Hills AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way 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 create professional relationships in the Vestavia Hills AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Vestavia Hills AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Small? Ask the programs you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Vestavia Hills AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Vestavia Hills AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure 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 have to attend classes near Vestavia Hills AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Vestavia Hills

Choose the Right Vestavia Hills Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your training 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama.



 

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