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How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Phoenix Arizona

Phoenix Arizona dental hygienist cleaning patient's teethPicking the right dental hygienist college near Phoenix AZ is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the college'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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Phoenix Arizona dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Phoenix AZ dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

    • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • Removing sutures and applying fillings

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. When 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 Education Options

Phoenix Arizona dental hygienist checking female patient's teethDue to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Phoenix AZ dental offices are normally required to have 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Schools

Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical 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 attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates 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 practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.

Learn More About Phoenix Dental Hygienist Programs

What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

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 discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school 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 frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides adequate 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, check that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Phoenix AZ dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Phoenix AZ dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Phoenix AZ dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Phoenix AZ area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Phoenix AZ at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have 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 because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Pick the Best Phoenix Dental Hygienist Training

big smile with white teeth by Phoenix Arizona dental hygienistEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are many options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phoenix Arizona.

 

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