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How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Catalina Foothills Arizona

Catalina Foothills Arizona dental hygienist examining patient's teethPicking the right dental hygienist college near Catalina Foothills AZ is an essential initial 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 performing your due diligence than picking 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 also, including 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 finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Catalina Foothills Arizona dental hygienist cleaning child's teeth

When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Catalina Foothills AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Educating patients about oral care
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Applying fillings and removing sutures

To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Catalina Foothills Arizona dental hygienist checking woman's teethAs a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Catalina Foothills AZ dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Catalina Foothills AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.

Find Out More About Catalina Foothills Dental Hygiene Degree Programs

Questions to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Catalina Foothills AZ, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. 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 education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Catalina Foothills AZ dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Catalina Foothills AZ dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, practical 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Catalina Foothills AZ dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Catalina Foothills AZ dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if 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 costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Catalina Foothills AZ area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Catalina Foothills AZ at nights 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 policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Pick the Right Catalina Foothills Dental Hygienist Program

big smile with clean teeth by Catalina Foothills Arizona dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative 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 many options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning 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 in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Catalina Foothills Arizona.

 

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