How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Vestavia Hills AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing 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, such as the program'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 expense. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties of Dental Hygienists
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 LicensingIndividuals wanting to become dental hygienists generally have two options: associate's degree programs or bachelor's degree programs. Most associate's degree programs take just two years to finish on a full-time basis. Bachelor's programs take four years to finish but can help you qualify for better jobs as well as those that pay more. And while bachelor's programs take longer to finish, these programs often include some clinical or practical work that helps you get familiar working with patients. Becoming a dental assistant or a hygienist requires that you get your license. According to the American Dental Association, most states require that hygienists have a degree from an accredited college or university and that they take an exam called the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam. If you do not receive a passing score on this exam, you will have the chance to take it again. You may need to take a test administered by the state board as well. This test will ask general questions about oral health, teeth cleaning and other things that dental hygienists do.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Vestavia Hills AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Vestavia Hills AL employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Vestavia Hills AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Vestavia Hills AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Vestavia Hills AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers 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 volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make 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 college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Vestavia Hills AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose 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 need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Vestavia Hills Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course 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 many alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly 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 generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose 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 in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama.