How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Rancho Santa Fe 92067
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Rancho Santa Fe CA is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, for instance the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Rancho Santa Fe dental office and can carry out a multitude of duties. Their principal job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some California dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the California dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Rancho Santa Fe dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the California practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at California community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Rancho Santa Fe area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Rancho Santa Fe home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Rancho Santa Fe area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the California schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify 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. Rancho Santa Fe area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, a large number of Rancho Santa Fe area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent 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 may 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 school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most Rancho Santa Fe area dental colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Rancho Santa Fe dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools require help landing 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 large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from 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 instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add 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 loans, grants and scholarships in the 92067 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Rancho Santa Fe at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Program near Rancho Santa Fe CAChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.