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How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Catalina Arizona

Catalina Arizona dental hygienist cleaning patient's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Catalina AZ is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and additional 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.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Catalina Arizona dental hygienist cleaning boy's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Catalina AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

    • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Teaching patients about oral hygiene
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Applying fillings and removing sutures

In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Catalina Arizona dental hygienist checking female patient's teethDue to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Catalina AZ dental offices are normally required to hold 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 nearly every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Colleges

Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes 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 convenience of your Catalina AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.

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Issues to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Catalina AZ, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Catalina AZ dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Catalina AZ dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best way 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 create professional relationships in the Catalina AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Catalina AZ dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Small? Ask the schools you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Catalina AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 examining the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Catalina AZ area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Catalina AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Pick the Right Catalina Dental Hygienist Courses

smile with white teeth by Catalina Arizona dental hygienistEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are a number of options available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing 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 Catalina Arizona.

 

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