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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist College Near Fairbanks Alaska

Fairbanks Alaska Dental Hygienist examining young child's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist college near Fairbanks AK is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive 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 reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Job of Dental Hygienists

Fairbanks Alaska Dental Hygienist applying fluoride woman's teeth

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 hygienists must also use several tools as part of their job. This includes hand, power, and ultrasonic tools for cleaning and polishing teeth, and x-ray machines for taking patient x-rays to check for issues with teeth and jaws.

Dental Hygienist Education and Licensing

Dental 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 Schools

Fairbanks Alaska Dental Hygienist cleaning plaque from young woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist program might be a great option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Fairbanks AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.

Points to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are comparing in order to make 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 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 going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairbanks AK employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Fairbanks AK dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Fairbanks AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fairbanks AK dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Fairbanks AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fairbanks AK area.

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

More Info on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Fairbanks

Pick the Right Fairbanks Dental Hygienist Training

Selecting the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire 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 generally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska.



 

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