How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near San Clemente 92672
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near San Clemente CA is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential component of any San Clemente dental practice and can carry out a variety of duties. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many California dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the California dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a San Clemente dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly 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 an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every 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 may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at California community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to have 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 almost 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 practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with San Clemente area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your San Clemente home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically 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 appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental college is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing San Clemente area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the California colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. San Clemente area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many San Clemente area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college 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, clearly it would not be the right school for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most San Clemente area dental schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional San Clemente dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require help landing their first job. Check if the colleges 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 as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the California colleges you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 92672 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near San Clemente at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Dental Program near San Clemente CAChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.