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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist School near Palmer Alaska

Palmer Alaska dental hygienist cleaning patient's teethPicking the right dental hygienist program near Palmer AK is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider as well, such as 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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and additional 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 duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Palmer Alaska dental hygienist checking child's teeth

When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Palmer AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

    • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Teaching patients about oral hygiene
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Applying fillings and removing sutures

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Palmer Alaska dental hygienist checking woman's teethAs a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Palmer AK dental offices are normally 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 almost every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Classes

Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Palmer AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.

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Issues to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Palmer AK, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Palmer AK dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Palmer AK dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Palmer AK dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Check with the programs you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Palmer AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Palmer AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Palmer AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical 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 issues.

Pick the Best Palmer Dental Hygienist Program

big smile with white teeth by Palmer Alaska dental hygienistChoosing the right dental hygienist course is essential 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 education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Palmer Alaska.

 

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