How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Santa Clara 95050
Selecting the right dental assistant college near Santa Clara CA is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to consider also, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Santa Clara dental practice and can perform a myriad of duties. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many California dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling 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 policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have 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) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Santa Clara dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the California practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- 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 in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at California junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational 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 also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Santa Clara area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Santa Clara home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the right option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Santa Clara area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the California schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, 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 School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Santa Clara area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, most Santa Clara 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 as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most Santa Clara area dental schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Santa Clara 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 too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools 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 in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the California programs you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 95050 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Santa Clara in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical 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.
Find the Ideal Dental College near Santa Clara CASelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.