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How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist School Near Juneau Alaska

Juneau Alaska Dental Hygienist cleaning young child's teethPicking the ideal dental hygienist program 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 examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, such as 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 accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Role of Dental Hygienists

Juneau Alaska Dental Hygienist applying fluoride 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.

Dental Hygienist Online Classes

Juneau Alaska Dental Hygienist cleaning tartar from young woman's teethEnrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a good alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program 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 anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.

Points to Ask Dental  Hygienist Schools

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Juneau Alaska, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided 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 many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Juneau AK employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Juneau AK dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to get 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 form professional relationships in the Juneau AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Juneau AK dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Juneau AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if 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 costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Juneau AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Juneau AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have 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.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Juneau

Choose the Right Juneau Dental Hygienist Program

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Juneau Alaska.



 

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