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How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene School near Kenai Alaska

Kenai Alaska dental hygienist examining patient's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Kenai AK is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as the program'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 complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Kenai Alaska dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant 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, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

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

To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Kenai Alaska dental hygienist examining woman's teethAs a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Kenai AK dental practices are normally required to have 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 virtually every state. They are offered in trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Colleges

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a good option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Kenai AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.

Learn More About Kenai Dental Hygienist Schools

Questions to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Kenai AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.

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

Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Kenai AK dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask 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 Kenai AK dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the programs you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Kenai AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Kenai AK area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Kenai AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Kenai Dental Hygienist Program

great smile with white teeth by Kenai Alaska dental hygienistChoosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are several options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose 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 in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Kenai Alaska.

 

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