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How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene College near Oro Valley Arizona

Oro Valley Arizona dental hygienist cleaning patient's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Oro Valley AZ is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually 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 lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Oro Valley Arizona dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Oro Valley AZ practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Instructing 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 graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Oro Valley Arizona dental hygienist checking woman's teethDue to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Oro Valley AZ dental practices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Colleges

Selecting an online dental hygienist college may 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 remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Oro Valley AZ home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.

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Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oro Valley AZ, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oro Valley AZ dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Oro Valley AZ dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get 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 develop professional relationships in the Oro Valley AZ dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Oro Valley AZ dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Oro Valley AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public 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 comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Oro Valley AZ area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Oro Valley AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Pick the Best Oro Valley Dental Hygienist Program

great smile with white teeth by Oro Valley Arizona dental hygienistEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are several options available to acquire your education 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 typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oro Valley Arizona.

 

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