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How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene School Near Juneau Alaska

Juneau Alaska Dental Hygienist examining young boy's teethPicking the right dental hygienist school near Juneau AK is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, including the school'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 complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about 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 review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

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The Job of Dental Hygienists

Juneau Alaska Dental Hygienist cleaning young 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 Schooling 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 Programs

Juneau Alaska Dental Hygienist removing plaque from woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a great alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Juneau AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Juneau Alaska, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Juneau AK employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Juneau AK dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional 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 Juneau AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Juneau AK dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Juneau AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. 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 programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Juneau AK area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Juneau 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 procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Find Out How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Juneau

Choose the Right Juneau Dental Hygienist Training

Choosing the right dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Juneau Alaska.



 

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