How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Lafayette 94549
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Lafayette CA is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. 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 money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Lafayette dental office and can undertake a variety of duties. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some California dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the California dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Lafayette dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the California practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at California junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to hold 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Lafayette area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a good alternative for obtaining your education. 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 desktop computer in the comfort of your Lafayette home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental online college is the best option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Lafayette area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the California programs you are comparing 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 several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Lafayette area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college 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, a large number of Lafayette area dental offices 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 each one 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many Lafayette area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school 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 have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Lafayette dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? 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 greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 94549 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Lafayette 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 protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Dental School near Lafayette CAEnrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to receive your education 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.