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How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Sitka Alaska

Sitka Alaska dental hygienist checking man's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist program near Sitka AK is an important first 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 much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to consider also, including the college's accreditation and reputation. 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 accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Sitka Alaska dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Sitka AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may 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
    • Instructing 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Sitka Alaska dental hygienist examining female patient's teethAs a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Sitka AK dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Sitka AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.

Learn More About Sitka Dental Hygienist Degree Programs

Issues to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Sitka AK, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college 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. Sitka AK dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select provides adequate 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, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Sitka AK dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, practical 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 develop professional relationships in the Sitka AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Sitka AK dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Sitka AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Sitka AK area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Sitka AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Right Sitka Dental Hygienist Program

big smile with white teeth by Sitka Alaska dental hygienistPicking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Sitka Alaska.

 

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