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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene College Near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethPicking the right dental hygienist program near Flagstaff AZ is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, including the school's reputation and accreditation. 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. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges 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 Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Flagstaff Arizona Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations.  Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

Dental Hygienist Schooling and Licensing

How do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.

Online Dental Hygienist Classes

Flagstaff Arizona Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist school can be a good option for getting your education. Just remember 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 via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Flagstaff AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Flagstaff AZ employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with local 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 type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Flagstaff AZ dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help 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 as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges 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 high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Flagstaff AZ dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Flagstaff AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Flagstaff AZ area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Flagstaff AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

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Pick the Right Flagstaff Dental Hygienist Training

Picking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose 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 right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona.



 

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