How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Anchorage Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Anchorage AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including the school'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 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Job of Dental Hygienists
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who is responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases. Dental hygienists perform much of their work independently, with only general supervision from a licensed dentist. Dental hygienists are an important part of dentist-led teams. Their work removes a considerable burden from the dentist, freeing up the dentist to perform more advanced procedures. Therefore, it is quite common for dental hygienists to perform many of the preventive dental procedures in an office, such as teeth cleaning, examining patients for oral diseases and other preventative dental care. Hygienists will scrape the tartar and plaque off of your teeth and polish them. Hygienists also usually take X-rays of your teeth and gums, give patients a fluoride rinse, and apply sealants to the teeth to ward off cavities. A hygienist will also review ways to care for your teeth and overall health at home, offering tips on ways to brush and floss, and on what foods to avoid or to eat for a healthy mouth.
Dental Hygienist Education and LicensingHow do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind 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 via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Anchorage AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online options also. Although these are important initial factors 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. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Anchorage AK employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Anchorage AK dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Anchorage AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Anchorage AK dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Anchorage AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting 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. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Anchorage AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Anchorage AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Anchorage Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain 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 normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska.