How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Program Near Apache Junction Arizona
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Apache Junction AZ is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, including 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 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Apache Junction AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Apache Junction Arizona dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a viable option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Apache Junction AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Apache Junction Arizona, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Apache Junction AZ employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Apache Junction AZ dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help 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 too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Apache Junction AZ dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Apache Junction AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools 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 costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Apache Junction AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Apache Junction AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Apache Junction Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to receive 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Apache Junction Arizona.