How to Enroll In a Dental Hygienist School near Gilbert Arizona
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Gilbert AZ is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Gilbert AZ practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Gilbert AZ dental office and can perform a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. However most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Arizona dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Gilbert AZ area junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in Gilbert AZ area trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a great 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 rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Gilbert AZ home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
After you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you want to attain, you can start the process of comparing Arizona schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Gilbert AZ area schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Gilbert AZ typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited Arizona schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the Arizona college you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Gilbert AZ dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most dental schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Gilbert AZ program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Gilbert AZ dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene schools require assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Gilbert AZ dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the Arizona schools you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Gilbert AZ.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near your Gilbert AZ home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Dental Hygienist?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Hygiene position, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. One of the things that interviewers frequently ask Dental Hygiene prospects is "What drove you to decide on Hygiene as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Dental Hygienist, but also what qualities and talents you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to Hygiene, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should organize some approaches about how you would like to answer them. Given that there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the strengths you possess that make you an excellent Dental Hygienist and the best candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and topics that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Select the Right Dental Hygienist College near Gilbert AZ
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gilbert AZ.
A Bit About Gilbert Arizona
Gilbert is a town in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, located southeast of Phoenix, within the Phoenix metropolitan area. Once known as the "Hay Shipping Capital of the World", Gilbert is currently the most populous incorporated town in the United States. It is the sixth-largest municipality in Arizona, and the fifth-largest in the Metropolitan Phoenix Area.
Gilbert encompasses 76 square miles (197 km2) and has made a rapid transformation from an agriculture-based community to an economically diverse suburban center located in the southeast valley of the Greater Phoenix area. In the last three decades, Gilbert has grown at an extremely high rate, increasing in population from 5,717 in 1980 to 208,453 as of the 2010 census. The town grew at an average annual growth rate of nearly 13% during this 30-year period.
Gilbert owes its beginnings to William "Bobby" Gilbert who provided land to the Arizona Eastern Railway in 1902 to construct a rail line between Phoenix and Florence, Arizona. Ayer's Grocery Store, the first store in Gilbert, opened in 1910 and became the location of the first post office in 1912. The location of the town post office moved several times before settling on the east side of Gilbert Road in downtown, where it still stands today. In 1912, many Mormons who had fled the Mormon colonies in Mexico due to the actions of the forces of Pancho Villa settled in Gilbert. By 1915, they began holding church meetings at the Gilbert Elementary School. In 1918, they were organized into the Gilbert Ward.
Incorporated in July 1920, Gilbert was primarily a farming community fueled by the rail line and construction of the Roosevelt Dam and the Eastern and Consolidated Canals. It remained an agricultural town for many years and was known as the "Hay Capital of the World" from 1911 until the late 1920s.
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