How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist College Near Florence Arizona
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Florence AZ is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists provide preventative oral care under a dentist's supervision. They clean patients' teeth and examine their mouths for signs of damage, gingivitis, and other diseases. Hygienists teach patients how to maintain good oral health. They also schedule appointments and keep records and may take and develop X-rays. Their scope of practice, which is the list of services they are legally allowed to deliver, differs according to the regulations of the state in which they practice. Dental hygienists generally are required to perform duties that include the following:
- Complete a preliminary exam on each new dental service patient
- Clean and remove stains, plaque, and tartar from teeth
- Apply fluorides and sealants for tooth protection
- Take dental x-rays and develop them
- Administer local anesthetics to patients
- Document treatment plans and care performed on patients
- Examine each patient's oral health and communicate findings to dentists
- Educate patients on how to care for their teeth with good oral hygiene, including proper brushing and flossing
Dental Hygienist Training and LicensingDental 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 Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally 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 comfort of your Florence AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Florence Arizona, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending 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 program 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. Florence AZ employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Florence AZ dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way 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 develop professional relationships in the Florence AZ dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Florence AZ dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Florence AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 schools, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Florence AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Florence AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Florence Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 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 elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Florence Arizona.