How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Fairfax 94930
Choosing the right dental assistant training near Fairfax CA is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Fairfax dental practice and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their principal job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of California dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the California dental board for your state’s regulations. 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 opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Fairfax dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the California practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at California junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Fairfax area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Programs
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Fairfax home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental online school is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to earn, you can start the process of comparing Fairfax area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the California programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fairfax area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the school you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, many Fairfax area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean all 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right school for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many Fairfax area dental programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Fairfax dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools require help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the California programs you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 94930 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Fairfax at nights 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 protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Dental Program near Fairfax CAEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking 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 begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.