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How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist School near Eagle River Alaska

Eagle River Alaska dental hygienist examining patient's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist college near Eagle River AK is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, including the school'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 finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Eagle River Alaska dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Eagle River AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

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

To qualify for licensing 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Eagle River Alaska dental hygienist examining woman's teethAs a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Eagle River AK dental practices 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 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 offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a good option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Eagle River AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.

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Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Eagle River AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school 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. Eagle River AK dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Eagle River AK dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain 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 establish professional relationships in the Eagle River AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Eagle River AK dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Eagle River AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to 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 schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Eagle River AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Eagle River AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, 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 due to work, illness or family issues.

Pick the Best Eagle River Dental Hygienist Training

smile with clean teeth by Eagle River Alaska dental hygienistChoosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally earn 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 online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Eagle River Alaska.

 

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