How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Flagstaff Arizona
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Flagstaff AZ is an essential initial step toward starting 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 completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing 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 a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Flagstaff AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Flagstaff Arizona dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Flagstaff AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.
Questions 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 schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Flagstaff AZ employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Flagstaff AZ dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing 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 profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the schools you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Flagstaff AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume 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 significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available 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 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 choose an online college, you will still be required 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 due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Flagstaff Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona.