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How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene College Near Catalina Foothills Arizona

Catalina Foothills Arizona Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist college near Catalina Foothills AZ is an essential first 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 far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider as well, such as the school'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 finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Role of Dental Hygienists

Catalina Foothills Arizona Dental Hygienist applying fluoride woman's teeth

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 hygienists must also use several tools as part of their job. This includes hand, power, and ultrasonic tools for cleaning and polishing teeth, and x-ray machines for taking patient x-rays to check for issues with teeth and jaws.

Dental Hygienist Training and Licensing

How 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Colleges

Catalina Foothills Arizona Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Catalina Foothills AZ home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Catalina Foothills Arizona, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Catalina Foothills AZ employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Catalina Foothills AZ dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to get 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 establish professional relationships in the Catalina Foothills AZ dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs 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 higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Catalina Foothills AZ dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Catalina Foothills AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Catalina Foothills AZ area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Catalina Foothills AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Catalina Foothills

Choose the Best Catalina Foothills Dental Hygienist Program

Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education 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 community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to 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 ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Catalina Foothills Arizona.



 

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