How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Lakes Alaska
Selecting 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 analyze and compare your school options. There is much 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 take into account as well, for instance the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Lakes AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching 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 as well as any state licensing exams. 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
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Lakes AK dental offices are usually 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 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 aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Lakes AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Lakes AK, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Lakes AK dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Lakes AK dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way 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 too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Lakes AK dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the programs you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Lakes AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Lakes AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Lakes AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Lakes Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is important 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 a number of alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Lakes Alaska.