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How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Nikiski Alaska

Nikiski Alaska dental hygienist examining patient's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Nikiski AK is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the school'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 complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Nikiski Alaska dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Nikiski AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:

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

To qualify for licensing in almost 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 exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Degree Options

Nikiski Alaska dental hygienist examining woman's teethAs a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Nikiski AK dental practices are often 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 nearly 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 dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Colleges

Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Nikiski AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best choice for you.

Learn More About Nikiski Dental Hygienist Programs

Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Nikiski AK, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin 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 several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify 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 education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Nikiski AK dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Nikiski AK dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective 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 establish professional relationships in the Nikiski AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Nikiski AK dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the schools you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Nikiski AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Nikiski AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Nikiski 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 making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.

Pick the Right Nikiski Dental Hygienist Courses

big smile with white teeth by Nikiski Alaska dental hygienistEnrolling in the right dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Nikiski Alaska.

 

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