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How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Juneau Alaska

Juneau Alaska dental hygienist examining man's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Juneau AK is an important first step toward beginning 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 completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, for instance the program'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 finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Juneau Alaska dental hygienist checking child's teeth

When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Juneau AK practice and the dentists. 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 encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Instructing patients about oral hygiene
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Juneau Alaska dental hygienist examining woman's teethDue to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Juneau AK dental offices are often 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Juneau AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.

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Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Juneau AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Although these are important 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 arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Juneau AK dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose 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 are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Juneau AK dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical 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 develop professional relationships in the Juneau AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching 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 Juneau AK dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Ask the schools you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Juneau AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Juneau AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Juneau AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Juneau Dental Hygienist Training

great smile with white teeth by Juneau Alaska dental hygienistChoosing the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Juneau Alaska.

 

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