Find Dental Hygienist Programs | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Elk CA 95432

How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Elk 95432

dental assistant training in Elk CASelecting the ideal dental assistant program near Elk CA is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Role of Dental Assistants

Elk dental assistant helping dentist 95432Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Elk dental practice and can undertake a wide range of functions. Their primary job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some California dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, for example:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the California dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Elk dental hygienist treating patient in CaliforniaWhen comparing the job of a Elk dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the California practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Instructing patients about oral hygiene
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant courses are provided at California community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Elk area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Elk homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Elk home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right choice for you.

Points to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask California dental colleges 95432When you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Elk area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the California programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant 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. Elk area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Elk area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most Elk area dental programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Elk dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the California colleges you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 95432 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Elk at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Ideal Dental School near Elk CA

Picking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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