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How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene College near Phoenix Arizona

Phoenix Arizona dental hygienist examining patient's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist program near Phoenix AZ is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Phoenix Arizona dental hygienist cleaning boy's teeth

When comparing the duties 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 in support of the Phoenix AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Teaching patients about oral care
    • 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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Phoenix Arizona dental hygienist cleaning female patient's teethAs a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Phoenix AZ dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Classes

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind 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 provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Phoenix AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.

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Issues to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phoenix AZ, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. 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 program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Phoenix AZ dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Phoenix AZ dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Phoenix AZ dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Phoenix AZ dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the schools you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Phoenix AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Phoenix AZ area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Phoenix AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Pick the Right Phoenix Dental Hygienist Courses

big smile with clean teeth by Phoenix Arizona dental hygienistChoosing the right dental hygienist program is essential 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 numerous options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phoenix Arizona.

 

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