Accredited Dental Hygienist Schools | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near La Mesa CA 91941

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near La Mesa 91941

dental assistant training in La Mesa CAPicking the right dental hygienist program near La Mesa CA is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Function of a Dental Assistant

La Mesa dental assistant helping dentist 91941Dental assistants are an essential component of any La Mesa dental office and can perform a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance 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 acquire certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

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

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

La Mesa dental hygienist treating patient in CaliforniaWhen comparing the job of a La Mesa dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the California practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Educating patients regarding oral care
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • 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 completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant programs are available at California community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with La Mesa area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Schools

attending dental assistant school online in La Mesa homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your La Mesa home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. 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 furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an online dental college is the right choice for you.

Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask California dental colleges 91941After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing La Mesa area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the California schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. La Mesa area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, most La Mesa area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college 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 best school for you.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of La Mesa area dental schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional La Mesa dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs 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 place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the California colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 91941 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near La Mesa at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Pick the Ideal Dental Program near La Mesa CA

Selecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options 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 community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 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 go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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