How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Spring Valley 91976
Selecting the ideal dental assistant program near Spring Valley CA is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, for instance the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining 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 generally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Spring Valley dental practice and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their primary job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of California dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing 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 office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the California dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Spring Valley dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the California practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at California junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally required to have 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Spring Valley area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a great option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Spring Valley home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. 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 required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Spring Valley area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the California schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Spring Valley area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can choose 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 Spring Valley area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher 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 each one 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many Spring Valley area dental schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind 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 college you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Spring Valley dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the California schools you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 91976 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Spring Valley at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required 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 due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Right Dental College near Spring Valley CAPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning 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 asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.