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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near El Mirage Arizona

El Mirage Arizona Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist program near El Mirage AZ is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

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The Role of a Dental Hygienist

El Mirage Arizona Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the El Mirage AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

    • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Teaching patients about oral hygiene
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • Removing sutures and applying fillings

In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in El Mirage Arizona dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Training

El Mirage Arizona Dental Hygienist removing tartar from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program might be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your El Mirage AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the best choice 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 discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. 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 Exam, 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. El Mirage AZ employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local El Mirage AZ dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real 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 also.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the El Mirage AZ dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the El Mirage AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing 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 find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the El Mirage AZ area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near El Mirage AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need 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 emergencies.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in El Mirage

Choose the Best El Mirage Dental Hygienist School

Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period 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 schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in El Mirage Arizona.



 

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