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How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program Near Oro Valley Arizona

Oro Valley Arizona Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Oro Valley AZ is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as 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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Function of Dental Hygienists

Oro Valley Arizona Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations.  Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

Dental Hygienist Schooling and Licensing

Individuals wanting to become dental hygienists generally have two options: associate's degree programs or bachelor's degree programs. Most associate's degree programs take just two years to finish on a full-time basis. Bachelor's programs take four years to finish but can help you qualify for better jobs as well as those that pay more. And while bachelor's programs take longer to finish, these programs often include some clinical or practical work that helps you get familiar working with patients. Becoming a dental assistant or a hygienist requires that you get your license. According to the American Dental Association, most states require that hygienists have a degree from an accredited college or university and that they take an exam called the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam. If you do not receive a passing score on this exam, you will have the chance to take it again. You may need to take a test administered by the state board as well. This test will ask general questions about oral health, teeth cleaning and other things that dental hygienists do.

Dental Hygienist Online Colleges

Oro Valley Arizona Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program can be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available 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 working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.

Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oro Valley Arizona, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oro Valley AZ employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Oro Valley AZ dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way 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 form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Oro Valley AZ dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Check with the programs you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Oro Valley AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Oro Valley AZ area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Oro Valley AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Oro Valley

Choose the Best Oro Valley Dental Hygienist Program

Choosing the right dental hygienist program 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 a number of options available to acquire your training 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 community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oro Valley Arizona.



 

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