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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Flagstaff AZ is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, 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 two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Function of Dental Hygienists

Flagstaff Arizona Dental Hygienist applying fluoride woman's teeth

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 Flagstaff 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 Education and Licensing

Dental 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.

Online Dental Hygienist Colleges

Flagstaff Arizona Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program 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 personal computer in the convenience of your Flagstaff AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.

Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options also. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Flagstaff AZ employers often prefer or require that job applicants 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 programs.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Flagstaff AZ dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to receive 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching 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 community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Flagstaff AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ 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 whether 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 costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Flagstaff AZ area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Flagstaff AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose 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 need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

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Pick the Best Flagstaff Dental Hygienist School

Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important 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 alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona.



 

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