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How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Wasilla Alaska

Wasilla Alaska dental hygienist examining patient's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Wasilla AK is an important 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 performing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider 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 two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Wasilla Alaska dental hygienist examining child's teeth

When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Wasilla AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

    • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
    • Administering 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 graduate 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 examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Wasilla Alaska dental hygienist checking female patient's teethDue to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Wasilla AK dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish 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 practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Wasilla AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed 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 discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal option for you.

Learn More About Wasilla Dental Hygienist Degree Programs

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Wasilla AK, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options also. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at 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 best dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Wasilla AK dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Wasilla AK dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means 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 establish professional relationships in the Wasilla AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Wasilla AK dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Wasilla AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, 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 Wasilla AK area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Wasilla AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Wasilla Dental Hygienist Courses

big smile with clean teeth by Wasilla Alaska dental hygienistEnrolling in the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As you now know, there are many options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Wasilla Alaska.

 

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