How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program Near Fairbanks Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Fairbanks AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, including the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
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The Role of a Dental Hygienist
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 Fairbanks 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 LicensingHow 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 Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a good option for getting 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 desktop computer in the convenience of your Fairbanks AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right choice for you.
Issues 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 schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fairbanks AK employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Fairbanks AK dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Check if the colleges 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 Fairbanks AK dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Check with the schools you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask 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 level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides 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 schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance 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 Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Fairbanks AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Fairbanks Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to receive 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska.