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How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert Arizona dental hygienist checking man's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Gilbert AZ is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Gilbert Arizona dental hygienist examining child's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists 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 typically the initial 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 may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

    • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Instructing 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Gilbert Arizona dental hygienist checking female patient's teethBecause of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Gilbert AZ dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 practical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Colleges

Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Gilbert AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.

Find Out More About Gilbert Dental Hygiene Schools

Subjects to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gilbert AZ, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify 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 training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Gilbert AZ dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Gilbert AZ dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain hands-on, practical 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 students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Gilbert AZ dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Gilbert AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gilbert AZ area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Gilbert AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Gilbert Dental Hygienist Training

great smile with white teeth by Gilbert Arizona dental hygienistSelecting the right dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gilbert Arizona.

 

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