How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene School near Fountain Hills Arizona
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Fountain Hills AZ is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance the school'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 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Fountain Hills AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities 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
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fountain Hills AZ dental offices are usually 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 virtually 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 clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Fountain Hills AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fountain Hills AZ, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program 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. Fountain Hills AZ dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Fountain Hills AZ dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. 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 professional relationships in the Fountain Hills AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fountain Hills AZ dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Fountain Hills AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fountain Hills AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Fountain Hills AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Fountain Hills Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fountain Hills Arizona.