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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Program near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona dental hygienist checking patient's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist college near Flagstaff AZ is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Flagstaff Arizona dental hygienist checking child's teeth

When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Flagstaff AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

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

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Flagstaff Arizona dental hygienist cleaning female patient's teethAs a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Flagstaff AZ dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Classes

Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Flagstaff AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed 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 method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.

Learn More About Flagstaff Dental Hygienist Programs

Topics to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Flagstaff AZ, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options also. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Flagstaff AZ dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Flagstaff AZ dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Flagstaff AZ dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at 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 Flagstaff AZ dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Flagstaff AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Flagstaff AZ area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Flagstaff AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Flagstaff Dental Hygienist Program

great smile with white teeth by Flagstaff Arizona dental hygienistChoosing the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you want 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 options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect 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 better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Flagstaff Arizona.

 

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