How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Santa Barbara 93101
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Santa Barbara CA is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate 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 significant issues to take into account also, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Santa Barbara dental office and can undertake a wide range of functions. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some California dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing 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
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the California dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Santa Barbara dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the California practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at California junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Santa Barbara area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant college may be a great option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Santa Barbara home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees 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 typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online college is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
When you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Santa Barbara area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the California colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Santa Barbara area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Santa Barbara 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 school 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 could 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 ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many Santa Barbara area dental colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Santa Barbara 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 are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the California programs you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost dependent 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 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 colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 93101 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Santa Barbara at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Dental School near Santa Barbara CAPicking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.