How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Maricopa Arizona
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Maricopa AZ is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually 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 cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Job 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 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.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Maricopa AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice 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 discussed at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Maricopa AZ employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Maricopa AZ dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get 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 establish professional relationships in the Maricopa AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Maricopa AZ dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Maricopa AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based 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 besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Maricopa AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Maricopa AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Maricopa Dental Hygienist School
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Maricopa Arizona.