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How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene College near Sterling Alaska

Sterling Alaska dental hygienist examining patient's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist college near Sterling AK is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, including the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Sterling Alaska dental hygienist examining 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 independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Sterling AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one 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 findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
    • Educating patients regarding oral care
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Sterling Alaska dental hygienist examining female patient's teethBecause of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Sterling AK dental practices are usually 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 virtually 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 clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a good alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Sterling AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the right option for you.

Learn More About Sterling Dental Hygiene Degree Programs

Topics to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Sterling AK, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order 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 instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Sterling AK dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately 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 Sterling AK dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Sterling AK dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Small? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Sterling AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Sterling AK area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Sterling AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need 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 emergencies.

Choose the Right Sterling Dental Hygienist Training

smile with white teeth by Sterling Alaska dental hygienistPicking the right dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two 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 decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Sterling Alaska.

 

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