How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program Near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Vestavia Hills AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as 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 two to three years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Job of a Dental Hygienist
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 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 Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Vestavia Hills AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
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 opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives also. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Vestavia Hills AL employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Vestavia Hills AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to get hands-on, practical 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement 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 in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Vestavia Hills AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out 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 verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring 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 school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Vestavia Hills Dental Hygienist School
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your training 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 community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Vestavia Hills Alabama.