How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist School Near Mesa Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Mesa AZ is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should 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 Job 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 Training 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 Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a great option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Mesa AZ home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mesa Arizona, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Mesa AZ employers frequently prefer or require that new hires 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 programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Mesa AZ dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Mesa AZ dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Mesa AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Mesa AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Mesa AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Mesa Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly 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 schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mesa Arizona.