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How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Sitka Alaska

Sitka Alaska dental hygienist examining patient's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Sitka AK is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, including the college'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 two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Sitka Alaska dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. 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 typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

    • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Removing sutures and applying fillings

To qualify for licensing in almost 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 licensure exams. After 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 Degree Options

Sitka Alaska dental hygienist checking woman's teethBecause of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Sitka AK dental practices 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Colleges

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a great option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Sitka AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the right choice for you.

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Issues to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Sitka AK, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Sitka AK dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Sitka AK dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain 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 build professional relationships in the Sitka AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Sitka AK dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Sitka AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent 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 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Sitka AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Sitka AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, 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 because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Sitka Dental Hygienist Training

great smile with clean teeth by Sitka Alaska dental hygienistEnrolling in the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Sitka Alaska.

 

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