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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska dental hygienist cleaning patient's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Gateway AK is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as the college'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 accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Gateway Alaska dental hygienist checking child's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly 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, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Educating patients about oral hygiene
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Gateway Alaska dental hygienist examining female patient's teethBecause of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Gateway AK dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Schools

Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Gateway AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.

Find Out More About Gateway Dental Hygienist Schools

Subjects to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gateway AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Gateway AK dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Gateway AK dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance 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 employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Gateway AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 examining the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Gateway AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Gateway AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Gateway Dental Hygienist Courses

great smile with clean teeth by Gateway Alaska dental hygienistEnrolling in the right dental hygienist course 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 several options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gateway Alaska.

 

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