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How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene College near Nikiski Alaska

Nikiski Alaska dental hygienist examining patient's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Nikiski AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze 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 program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider also, including the school'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 finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Nikiski Alaska dental hygienist examining child's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Nikiski AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

    • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Educating patients about oral care
    • 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled 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 female patient's teethAs a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Nikiski AK dental practices are often required to hold 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 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Nikiski AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.

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Points to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Nikiski AK, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick 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 program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Nikiski AK dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Nikiski AK dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to get 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Nikiski AK dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Nikiski AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the duration 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 substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Nikiski AK area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Nikiski AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Nikiski Dental Hygienist Program

smile with clean teeth by Nikiski Alaska dental hygienistPicking the right dental hygienist program is crucial 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 numerous options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Nikiski Alaska.

 

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