How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Escondido 92025
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Escondido CA is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Escondido dental office and can perform a variety of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some California dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing 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 need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Escondido dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the California practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- 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 Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at California community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are usually 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Escondido area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Escondido home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an dental online program is the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
Once you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the process of comparing Escondido area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the California colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Escondido area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the school you select has 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, the majority of Escondido area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most Escondido area dental programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you select offers adequate 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 college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Escondido dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching 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 dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the California colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 92025 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Escondido at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Ideal Dental School near Escondido CAEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided 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 or assistant.