How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Anchorage Alaska
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Anchorage AK is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Function of Dental Hygienists
Dental hygienists provide preventative oral care under a dentist's supervision. They clean patients' teeth and examine their mouths for signs of damage, gingivitis, and other diseases. Hygienists teach patients how to maintain good oral health. They also schedule appointments and keep records and may take and develop X-rays. Their scope of practice, which is the list of services they are legally allowed to deliver, differs according to the regulations of the state in which they practice. Dental hygienists generally are required to perform duties that include the following:
- Complete a preliminary exam on each new dental service patient
- Clean and remove stains, plaque, and tartar from teeth
- Apply fluorides and sealants for tooth protection
- Take dental x-rays and develop them
- Administer local anesthetics to patients
- Document treatment plans and care performed on patients
- Examine each patient's oral health and communicate findings to dentists
- Educate patients on how to care for their teeth with good oral hygiene, including proper brushing and flossing
Dental Hygienist Training and LicensingDental hygienists typically need an associate's degree in dental hygiene. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in dental hygiene also are available, but are less common. A bachelor's or master's degree usually is required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs. Dental hygiene programs are commonly found in community colleges, technical schools, and universities. In 2017, the Commission on Dental Accreditation, part of the American Dental Association, accredited more than 300 dental hygiene programs. Programs typically take 2 to 3 years to complete, and offer laboratory, clinical, and classroom instruction. Areas of study include physiology, nutrition, radiography, pathology, medical ethics, anatomy, patient management, and periodontics, which is the study of gum disease. Every state requires dental hygienists to be licensed; requirements vary by state. In most states, a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program and passing grades on written and clinical examinations are required for licensure. To maintain licensure, hygienists must complete continuing education requirements. For specific requirements, contact your state's Board of Dental Examiners.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Anchorage AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Anchorage AK employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Anchorage AK dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing 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 Anchorage AK dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Anchorage AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Anchorage AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Anchorage AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Anchorage Dental Hygienist School
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend 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 options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually 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 addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska.