How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Poway 92064
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Poway CA is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Poway dental practice and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their main job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of California dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing 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 policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Poway dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly 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, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at California junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three 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 assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Poway area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Poway home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental college is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
When you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Poway area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the California schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going 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 college 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. Poway area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the school you decide on 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, a large number of Poway area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of Poway area dental colleges have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in offers enough 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, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Poway dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high 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? Ask the California programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs 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 expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 92064 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Poway at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Ideal Dental College near Poway CASelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering 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 addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.