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How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Sitka Alaska

Sitka Alaska dental hygienist checking man's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near Sitka AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, including the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Sitka Alaska dental hygienist examining child's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Sitka AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:

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

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Sitka Alaska dental hygienist checking female patient's teethAs a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Sitka AK dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Classes

Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a great option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Sitka AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.

Find Out More About Sitka Dental Hygienist Degree Programs

Topics to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Sitka AK, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for some online options as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. 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 Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Sitka AK dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Sitka AK dental office that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Sitka AK dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Sitka AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Sitka AK area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Sitka AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Pick the Best Sitka Dental Hygienist Courses

great smile with clean teeth by Sitka Alaska dental hygienistPicking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Sitka Alaska.

 

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