The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Arizona dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding 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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Arizona dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete 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 clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a great alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Arizona home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.