How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Program Near Fairbanks Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Fairbanks AK is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, including the school'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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Function of a Dental Hygienist
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.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a good alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Fairbanks AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community 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 may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order 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 training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairbanks AK employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose offers 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, verify that the college you choose 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 schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the Fairbanks AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fairbanks AK dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer 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 so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration 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 along with 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fairbanks AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Fairbanks AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Fairbanks Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to acquire 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska.