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The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Alaska dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Alaska dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Alaska home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal option for you.