How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist College near Fairbanks Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Fairbanks AK is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues 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 offered.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Fairbanks AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled 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
As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Fairbanks AK dental offices are generally 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 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a viable 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 accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Fairbanks AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies 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 necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairbanks AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options also. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. 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 ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairbanks AK dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Fairbanks AK dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Fairbanks AK dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Fairbanks AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with 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 colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fairbanks AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Fairbanks AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Fairbanks Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing 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 numerous options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska.