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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Homer Alaska

Homer Alaska dental hygienist examining man's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Homer AK is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the college'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 two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Homer Alaska dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Homer AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

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

To qualify for licensing in nearly 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. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Homer Alaska dental hygienist checking woman's teethDue to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Homer AK dental practices are often required to have 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 virtually 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Homer AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical 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 receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.

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Issues to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Homer AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Homer AK dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Homer AK dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Homer AK dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the schools you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Homer AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if 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 costs 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. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Homer AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify 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 Homer AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Homer Dental Hygienist Program

smile with white teeth by Homer Alaska dental hygienistChoosing the right dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are many options offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Homer Alaska.

 

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