How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist School near Mesa Arizona
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Mesa AZ is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, such as the college'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 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Mesa AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Mesa AZ dental offices are generally 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 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a great option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Mesa AZ home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mesa AZ, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, 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 instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Mesa AZ dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Mesa AZ dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive 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 form professional relationships in the Mesa AZ dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges 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 are likely to have good reputations within the Mesa AZ dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Mesa AZ dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, 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 substantial expenses 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Mesa AZ area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Mesa AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Mesa Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend 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 training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mesa Arizona.