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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Maricopa Arizona

Maricopa Arizona Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist program near Maricopa AZ is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, such as the college'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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at 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 Dental Hygienists

Maricopa Arizona Dental Hygienist cleaning woman's teeth

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 hygienists must also use several tools as part of their job. This includes hand, power, and ultrasonic tools for cleaning and polishing teeth, and x-ray machines for taking patient x-rays to check for issues with teeth and jaws.

Dental Hygienist Schooling 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.

Online Dental Hygienist Schools

Maricopa Arizona Dental Hygienist removing plaque from woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% 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 comfort of your Maricopa AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional 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 clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.

Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Maricopa Arizona, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Maricopa AZ employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Maricopa AZ dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Maricopa AZ dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Maricopa AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if 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 expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Maricopa AZ area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Maricopa AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Maricopa

Choose the Best Maricopa Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Maricopa Arizona.



 

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