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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene School Near Juneau Alaska

Juneau Alaska Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Juneau AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to 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 are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations.  Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

Dental Hygienist Schooling and Licensing

How do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.

Dental Hygienist Online Classes

Juneau Alaska Dental Hygienist removing plaque from woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a good alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Juneau AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, 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 clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary 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 option for you.

Points to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Colleges

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 start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Juneau AK employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose provides enough 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, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Juneau AK dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, practical 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 Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Juneau AK dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Juneau AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Juneau AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Juneau AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose 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 emergencies.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Juneau

Pick the Right Juneau Dental Hygienist Program

Selecting the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect 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 better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Juneau Alaska.



 

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