How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Lake Havasu City AZ is an essential initial 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 far more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, 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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
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 Schooling 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.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a great alternative for receiving your training. 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 desktop computer in the convenience of your Lake Havasu City AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Lake Havasu City Arizona, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lake Havasu City AZ employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Lake Havasu City AZ dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive 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 develop professional relationships in the Lake Havasu City AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Lake Havasu City AZ dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Lake Havasu City AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume 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 expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Lake Havasu City AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Lake Havasu City AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Lake Havasu City Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Lake Havasu City Arizona.