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How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Course Near Fairbanks Alaska

Fairbanks Alaska Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Fairbanks AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to consider as well, for instance the college'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 considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Function of Dental Hygienists

Fairbanks Alaska Dental Hygienist cleaning 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 Training 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.

Online Dental Hygienist Classes

Fairbanks Alaska Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from young woman's teethChoosing an online dental hygienist program may be a viable option for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Fairbanks AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.

Subjects 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, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few 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 included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college 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 frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Fairbanks AK dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Fairbanks AK dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Fairbanks AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fairbanks AK area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to 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 protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Fairbanks

Pick the Best Fairbanks Dental Hygienist Program

Choosing the right dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska.



 

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