How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Arcadia 91006
Picking the ideal dental assistant school near Arcadia CA is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, including the program’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 invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Arcadia dental practice and can perform a variety of duties. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of California dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary 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 licensed and certified. A large number of 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 Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Arcadia 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 assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the California practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. 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 responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. 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 & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at California community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide 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 employed in dental practices are usually required to have 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Arcadia area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Classes
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Arcadia home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Arcadia area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the California programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Arcadia area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you decide on offers 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 have a career as a hygienist, most Arcadia area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school has a good reputation and 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, naturally it would not be the best college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many Arcadia area dental programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical 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 would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Arcadia dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the California programs you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 91006 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Arcadia at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Find the Best Dental Program near Arcadia CASelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount 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 an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.