Top Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Portola CA 96122

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Portola 96122

dental assistant training in Portola CASelecting the right dental assistant college near Portola CA is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically 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 cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

Portola dental assistant helping dentist 96122Dental assistants are an essential component of any Portola dental office and can undertake a wide range of functions. Their primary job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. Some California dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, including:

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

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the California dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Portola dental hygienist treating patient in CaliforniaWhen contrasting the role of a Portola dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting 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 every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out 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
  • Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure 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 and Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant programs are offered at California community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Portola area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Portola homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely 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 Portola home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical 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 appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the right option for you.

Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask California dental colleges 96122After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Portola area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the California schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Portola area employers typically 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 offered for non-accredited schools.

Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Portola area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college has a good 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many Portola area dental colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Portola 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 are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs need help getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job placement 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 broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the California colleges you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 96122 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Portola at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Select the Ideal Dental School near Portola CA

Choosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend 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 obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training 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 choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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