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How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Flagstaff AZ is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine 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 school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, such as 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 two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Function of a Dental Hygienist

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 Training 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Schools

Flagstaff Arizona Dental Hygienist removing plaque from woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program may be a good option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Flagstaff AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.

Points to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right 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 program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Flagstaff AZ employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Flagstaff AZ dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges 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 employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Flagstaff AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Flagstaff AZ area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Flagstaff AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Flagstaff

Choose the Right Flagstaff Dental Hygienist School

Choosing 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 a number of options offered to obtain your education 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect 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 in a better position to make the ideal 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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