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How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska dental hygienist checking man's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Gateway AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the college'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 complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Gateway Alaska dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the job 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 in support of the Gateway AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

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

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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Gateway Alaska dental hygienist examining woman's teethDue to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Gateway AK dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Choosing an online dental hygienist program might be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Gateway AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.

Find Out More About Gateway Dental Hygienist Schools

Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gateway AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good 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 virtually 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Gateway AK dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Gateway AK dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Gateway AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Gateway AK dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Gateway AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gateway AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Gateway AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Pick the Right Gateway Dental Hygienist Program

great smile with white teeth by Gateway Alaska dental hygienistEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative 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 many options available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gateway Alaska.

 

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