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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Training Program Near Oro Valley Arizona

Oro Valley Arizona Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Oro Valley AZ is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, for instance the program'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 longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should 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 available.

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The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Oro Valley Arizona Dental Hygienist applying fluoride 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 Education and Licensing

How 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs

Oro Valley Arizona Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist program may be a good option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Oro Valley AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oro Valley Arizona, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Oro Valley AZ employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Oro Valley AZ dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to receive 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Oro Valley AZ dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the schools you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Oro Valley AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration 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 in addition to the tuition there are other substantial 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 comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Oro Valley AZ area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Oro Valley AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required 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 due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Oro Valley

Choose the Right Oro Valley Dental Hygienist School

Choosing the right dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to acquire your education 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oro Valley Arizona.



 

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