How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Program Near Maricopa Arizona
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Maricopa AZ is an important initial step toward starting 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 training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, including the school'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. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who is responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases. Dental hygienists perform much of their work independently, with only general supervision from a licensed dentist. Dental hygienists are an important part of dentist-led teams. Their work removes a considerable burden from the dentist, freeing up the dentist to perform more advanced procedures. Therefore, it is quite common for dental hygienists to perform many of the preventive dental procedures in an office, such as teeth cleaning, examining patients for oral diseases and other preventative dental care. Hygienists will scrape the tartar and plaque off of your teeth and polish them. Hygienists also usually take X-rays of your teeth and gums, give patients a fluoride rinse, and apply sealants to the teeth to ward off cavities. A hygienist will also review ways to care for your teeth and overall health at home, offering tips on ways to brush and floss, and on what foods to avoid or to eat for a healthy mouth.
Dental Hygienist Schooling and LicensingHow do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Maricopa AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Maricopa Arizona, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, 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 several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Maricopa AZ employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose provides sufficient 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, make sure that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Maricopa AZ dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools 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 Maricopa AZ dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the programs you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Maricopa AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Maricopa AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must 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 must go to classes near Maricopa AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Maricopa Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Maricopa Arizona.