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How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Kenai Alaska

Kenai Alaska dental hygienist cleaning man's teethPicking the right dental hygienist college near Kenai 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 completing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Kenai Alaska dental hygienist cleaning boy's teeth

When comparing 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 Kenai AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

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

In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Kenai Alaska dental hygienist cleaning woman's teethBecause of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Kenai AK dental practices are normally 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 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Training

Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Kenai AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.

Learn More About Kenai Dental Hygiene Degree Programs

Points to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Kenai AK, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, 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. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Kenai AK dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Kenai AK dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Kenai AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the programs 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 Kenai AK dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the programs you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Kenai AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Kenai AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Kenai AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

Pick the Best Kenai Dental Hygienist Training

great smile with clean teeth by Kenai Alaska dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are numerous options available to acquire your education 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 junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to 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 right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Kenai Alaska.

 

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