How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Imperial 92251
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Imperial CA is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to finish 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 finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Imperial dental practice and can undertake a wide range of duties. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of California dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the California dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Imperial dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the California practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with 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. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at California junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive 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 employed in dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Imperial area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Imperial home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental school is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Imperial area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the California programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Imperial area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, many Imperial area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation as well as 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many Imperial area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose provides enough 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, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Imperial dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the California colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school 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 Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 92251 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Imperial at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Ideal Dental College near Imperial CASelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community 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 working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.