How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Flagstaff Arizona
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Flagstaff AZ is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should 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 available.
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The Role of Dental Hygienists
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 Training and LicensingHow 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.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a good option for receiving your training. 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 accessible via your personal computer in the convenience 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 much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.
Subjects 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 programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to 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 help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 of the highest quality and comprehensive. Flagstaff AZ employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Flagstaff AZ dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional 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 are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need 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 are likely to have good reputations within the Flagstaff AZ dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the programs you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Flagstaff AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Flagstaff AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Flagstaff AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Flagstaff Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona.