Top Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near San Carlos CA 94070

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near San Carlos 94070

dental assistant training in San Carlos CAPicking the ideal dental hygienist program near San Carlos CA is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, for instance the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two 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 common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete 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 complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Job of a Dental Assistant

San Carlos dental assistant helping dentist 94070Dental assistants are an essential part of any San Carlos dental office and can undertake a multitude of duties. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of California dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, such as:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

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

The Job of Dental Hygienists

San Carlos dental hygienist treating patient in CaliforniaWhen contrasting the job of a San Carlos dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the California practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Instructing patients regarding oral care
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

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 as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at California community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of 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 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with San Carlos area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in San Carlos homeEnrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a viable option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your San Carlos home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best option for you.

Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask California dental colleges 94070When you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing San Carlos area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the California colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. San Carlos area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available 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 select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many San Carlos area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 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 college for you.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many San Carlos area dental schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in offers adequate 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, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional San Carlos dental practice. They make it easier for 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 too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the California colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 94070 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near San Carlos at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Pick the Best Dental School near San Carlos CA

Choosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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