How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene Program Near Mesa Arizona
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Mesa AZ is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, including the college's reputation and accreditation. 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 complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Job 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 Training 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.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Mesa AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mesa Arizona, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options also. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are reviewing 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 ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college 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. Mesa AZ employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Mesa AZ dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Mesa AZ dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer 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 tend to provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Mesa AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Mesa AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Mesa AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in 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 illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Mesa Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to obtain your education 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 junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mesa Arizona.