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How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist Training Program near Lakes Alaska

Lakes Alaska dental hygienist checking patient's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Lakes AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Lakes Alaska dental hygienist cleaning boy's teeth

When comparing the duties 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 Lakes AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

    • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
    • Applying 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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Lakes Alaska dental hygienist checking female patient's teethAs a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Lakes AK dental practices are generally 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 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 aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Programs

Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a great option for getting your education. Just remember 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 accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Lakes AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened 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 needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.

Find Out More About Lakes Dental Hygiene Programs

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Lakes AK, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lakes AK dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Lakes AK dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 Lakes AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Lakes AK dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the schools you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Lakes AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Lakes AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Lakes AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, 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 work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Lakes Dental Hygienist Training

big smile with white teeth by Lakes Alaska dental hygienistSelecting the right dental hygienist course is crucial 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 alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented 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 Lakes Alaska.

 

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