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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Prescott Arizona

Prescott Arizona dental hygienist checking man's teethPicking the right dental hygienist college near Prescott AZ is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, including the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Prescott Arizona dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Prescott 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 area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Educating patients regarding oral care
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Applying fillings and removing sutures

In order to be licensed in nearly 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 licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Prescott Arizona dental hygienist examining female patient's teethAs a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Prescott AZ dental practices are often 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 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.

Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs

Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Prescott AZ home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.

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Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prescott AZ, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prescott 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, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important 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, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Prescott AZ dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help landing their first job. Check if the colleges 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 Prescott AZ dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Prescott AZ dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs 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, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Prescott AZ area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify 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 Prescott AZ in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Prescott Dental Hygienist Training

great smile with white teeth by Prescott Arizona dental hygienistEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination 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 receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter 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 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 Prescott Arizona.

 

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