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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Program near Sitka Alaska

Sitka Alaska dental hygienist checking patient's teethSelecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Sitka AK is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Sitka Alaska dental hygienist checking boy's teeth

When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant 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 assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

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

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

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Sitka Alaska dental hygienist examining woman's teethAs a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Sitka AK dental practices are generally 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 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs

Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Sitka AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.

Learn More About Sitka Dental Hygienist Programs

Subjects to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

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 potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished 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 enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Sitka AK dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select provides enough 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 program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Sitka AK dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real 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 look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Sitka AK dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Sitka AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Sitka AK area.

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

Choose the Best Sitka Dental Hygienist Courses

big smile with clean teeth by Sitka Alaska dental hygienistChoosing the right dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. 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 best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Sitka Alaska.

 

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