How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near El Mirage Arizona
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near El Mirage AZ is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to consider as well, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally 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 explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Job of a Dental Hygienist
A dental hygienist cleans teeth, examines patients for oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provides other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health. Almost all El Mirage Arizona dental hygienists work in dental offices and work closely with dentists and dental assistants. A dental hygienist uses many types of tools to do their job. They clean and polish teeth with both hand and powered tools, as well as ultrasonic devices. In some cases, hygienists remove stains with an air polishing device, which sprays a combination of air, water, and baking soda. They polish teeth with a powered tool that works like an automatic toothbrush, and use x-ray machines to take pictures to check for tooth or jaw problems. Some other tasks of a dental hygienist include:
- Removing tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth
- Applying sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth
- Taking and developing dental x-rays
- Keeping track of patient care and treatment plans
- Teaching patients oral hygiene, such as how to brush and floss correctly
Dental hygienists help patients develop and keep good oral health. They may explain the relationship between diet and oral health. They also may give advice to patients on how to select toothbrushes and other oral-care devices.
Dental Hygienist Training and LicensingDental hygienists typically need an associate's degree in dental hygiene. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in dental hygiene also are available, but are less common. A bachelor's or master's degree usually is required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs. Dental hygiene programs are commonly found in community colleges, technical schools, and universities. In 2017, the Commission on Dental Accreditation, part of the American Dental Association, accredited more than 300 dental hygiene programs. Programs typically take 2 to 3 years to complete, and offer laboratory, clinical, and classroom instruction. Areas of study include physiology, nutrition, radiography, pathology, medical ethics, anatomy, patient management, and periodontics, which is the study of gum disease. Every state requires dental hygienists to be licensed; requirements vary by state. In most states, a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program and passing grades on written and clinical examinations are required for licensure. To maintain licensure, hygienists must complete continuing education requirements. For specific requirements, contact your state's Board of Dental Examiners.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your El Mirage AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in El Mirage Arizona, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. El Mirage AZ employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program 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, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local El Mirage AZ dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to obtain 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 El Mirage AZ dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the El Mirage AZ dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the El Mirage AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the El Mirage AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in 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 will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near El Mirage AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best El Mirage Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period 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 typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 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 elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in El Mirage Arizona.