How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near San Marcos 92069
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near San Marcos CA is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any San Marcos dental office and can carry out a wide range of duties. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many California dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the California dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a San Marcos dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, 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 a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After 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 & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at California community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to hold 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 trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with San Marcos area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your San Marcos home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental online college is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
Once you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing San Marcos area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the California programs 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 due diligence and final selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. San Marcos area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you choose 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 work as a hygienist, a large number of San Marcos area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school 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 strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most San Marcos area dental colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional San Marcos dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the California programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 92069 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near San Marcos at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Dental School near San Marcos CASelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.