How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near La Salle 80645
Selecting the ideal dental assistant college near La Salle CA is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any La Salle dental practice and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their primary job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of California dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving 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 deviate by state, so check with the California dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a La Salle dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the California practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out 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
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at California junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with La Salle area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your La Salle home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental online school is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the process of comparing La Salle area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the California schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. La Salle area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of La Salle area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college 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 strong 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, naturally it would not be the best college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many La Salle area dental programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real La Salle dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the California schools you are evaluating how big 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, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 80645 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near La Salle at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Ideal Dental College near La Salle CASelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. 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 right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.