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How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Oro Valley Arizona

Oro Valley Arizona Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Oro Valley AZ is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. 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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged 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 explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Job of Dental Hygienists

Oro Valley Arizona Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

A dental hygienist cleans teeth, examines patients for oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provides other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health. Almost all Oro Valley Arizona dental hygienists work in dental offices and work closely with dentists and dental assistants. A dental hygienist uses many types of tools to do their job. They clean and polish teeth with both hand and powered tools, as well as ultrasonic devices. In some cases, hygienists remove stains with an air polishing device, which sprays a combination of air, water, and baking soda. They polish teeth with a powered tool that works like an automatic toothbrush, and use x-ray machines to take pictures to check for tooth or jaw problems. Some other tasks of a dental hygienist include:

  • Removing tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth
  • Applying sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth
  • Taking and developing dental x-rays
  • Keeping track of patient care and treatment plans
  • Teaching patients oral hygiene, such as how to brush and floss correctly

Dental hygienists help patients develop and keep good oral health. They may explain the relationship between diet and oral health. They also may give advice to patients on how to select toothbrushes and other oral-care devices.

Dental Hygienist Training 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Schools

Oro Valley Arizona Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a good option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Oro Valley AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. 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 obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oro Valley Arizona, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order 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 receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Oro Valley AZ employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For 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 Oro Valley AZ dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical 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 also.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Oro Valley AZ dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Oro Valley AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Oro Valley AZ area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Oro Valley AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Oro Valley

Choose the Right Oro Valley Dental Hygienist Program

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is important 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 alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oro Valley Arizona.



 

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