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How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene School Near Eagle River Alaska

Eagle River Alaska Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Eagle River AK is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the program'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 accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at 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

Eagle River Alaska Dental Hygienist applying fluoride young woman's teeth

A dental hygienist cleans teeth, examines patients for oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provides other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health. Almost all Eagle River Alaska dental hygienists work in dental offices and work closely with dentists and dental assistants. A dental hygienist uses many types of tools to do their job. They clean and polish teeth with both hand and powered tools, as well as ultrasonic devices. In some cases, hygienists remove stains with an air polishing device, which sprays a combination of air, water, and baking soda. They polish teeth with a powered tool that works like an automatic toothbrush, and use x-ray machines to take pictures to check for tooth or jaw problems. Some other tasks of a dental hygienist include:

  • Removing tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth
  • Applying sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth
  • Taking and developing dental x-rays
  • Keeping track of patient care and treatment plans
  • Teaching patients oral hygiene, such as how to brush and floss correctly

Dental hygienists help patients develop and keep good oral health. They may explain the relationship between diet and oral health. They also may give advice to patients on how to select toothbrushes and other oral-care devices.

Dental Hygienist Training and Licensing

How to become a dental hygienist depends on completing educational requirements, training and passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. Dental hygienists receive their education through academic programs at community colleges, technical colleges, dental schools or universities. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete, with graduates receiving associate degrees. Receipt of this degree allows a hygienist to take licensure examinations (national and state or regional), become licensed and to work in a dental office. Dental school and university-based dental hygiene programs may offer baccalaureate and master's degrees, which generally require at least two years of further schooling. These additional degrees may be required for a career in teaching and/or research, as well as for clinical practice in school or public health programs. Dental hygienists are licensed by each state to provide dental hygiene care and patient education. Almost all states require that dental hygienists be graduates of Commission on Dental Education-accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. And, almost all states require candidates for licensure to obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (a comprehensive written examination) in addition to passing the state-authorized licensure examination.

Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs

Eagle River Alaska Dental Hygienist removing tartar from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist college may be a great option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Eagle River AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced 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 needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.

What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Eagle River Alaska, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Eagle River AK employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Eagle River AK dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to receive 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 form professional relationships in the Eagle River AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Eagle River AK dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the schools you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Eagle River AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Eagle River AK area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Eagle River AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need 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 because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Eagle River

Pick the Best Eagle River Dental Hygienist Training

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Eagle River Alaska.



 

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