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How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Course Near Fairbanks Alaska

Fairbanks Alaska Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Fairbanks AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as 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 two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Fairbanks Alaska Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Fairbanks AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:

    • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
    • Administering fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • Removing sutures and applying fillings

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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Fairbanks Alaska dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Schools

Fairbanks Alaska Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a good alternative for getting your education. Just remember 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 provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Fairbanks AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, 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 education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairbanks AK employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select offers enough 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 college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Fairbanks AK dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional 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 Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fairbanks AK dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Fairbanks AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fairbanks AK area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Fairbanks AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Fairbanks

Pick the Best Fairbanks Dental Hygienist Program

Picking the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to obtain your education 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 community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska.



 

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