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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Phoenix Arizona

Phoenix Arizona dental hygienist examining patient's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Phoenix AZ is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the college's accreditation and reputation. 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 lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Phoenix Arizona dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When contrasting the job 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 Phoenix AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Educating patients regarding oral care
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • 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 licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Phoenix Arizona dental hygienist examining female patient's teethAs a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Phoenix 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 trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. 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 Programs

Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Phoenix AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the best choice for you.

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Questions to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phoenix AZ, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are comparing in order to reach 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 right dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good 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 requirement in nearly 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 ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Phoenix AZ dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you select provides sufficient 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 Phoenix AZ dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Phoenix AZ dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Find out from the colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Phoenix AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance 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 costs 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Phoenix AZ area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Phoenix AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in 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 have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Pick the Best Phoenix Dental Hygienist Courses

smile with white teeth by Phoenix Arizona dental hygienistSelecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are several options offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phoenix Arizona.

 

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