How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Gilbert Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Gilbert AZ is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, for instance the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Gilbert AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums 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
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Gilbert AZ dental practices are generally 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 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Gilbert AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting 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 clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gilbert AZ, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Gilbert AZ dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish 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 subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Gilbert AZ dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Gilbert AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Gilbert AZ dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the colleges you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Gilbert AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Gilbert AZ area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Gilbert AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Gilbert Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect 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 better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gilbert Arizona.