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How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Training Program near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska dental hygienist cleaning man's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist college near Gateway AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the school'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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Gateway Alaska dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Gateway AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

    • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Teaching patients about oral care
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • Applying fillings and removing sutures

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

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Gateway Alaska dental hygienist cleaning female patient's teethBecause of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Gateway AK dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Gateway AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.

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Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gateway AK, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing 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 best dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Gateway AK dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Gateway AK dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to obtain 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 form professional relationships in the Gateway AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Gateway AK dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Small? Find out from the programs you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Gateway AK dental hygienist 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 Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Gateway AK area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Gateway AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Best Gateway Dental Hygienist Courses

great smile with white teeth by Gateway Alaska dental hygienistChoosing the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you want 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 options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gateway Alaska.

 

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