How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Training Program near Anchorage Alaska
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Anchorage AK is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors 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 two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Anchorage AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must 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
Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Anchorage AK dental practices are normally 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 almost 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Anchorage AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Anchorage AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Anchorage AK dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Anchorage AK dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive 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 professional relationships in the Anchorage AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Anchorage AK dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Anchorage AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Anchorage AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Anchorage AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Anchorage Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska.