Top Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near La Crescenta CA 91214

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near La Crescenta 91214

dental assistant training in La Crescenta CAPicking the right dental assistant program near La Crescenta CA is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider 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 depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months 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 accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

La Crescenta dental assistant helping dentist 91214Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any La Crescenta dental office and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their primary job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some California dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the California dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

La Crescenta dental hygienist treating patient in CaliforniaWhen comparing the duties of a La Crescenta dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the California practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at California community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often 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 nearly 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 aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with La Crescenta area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in La Crescenta homeSelecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your La Crescenta home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an dental online school is the best choice for you.

Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools

Questions to ask California dental colleges 91214Once you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing La Crescenta area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the California schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included 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 valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. La Crescenta area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.

Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, most La Crescenta area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of La Crescenta area dental colleges have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional La Crescenta dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Find out from the California schools you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 91214 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near La Crescenta in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Pick the Ideal Dental Program near La Crescenta CA

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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