How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near San Diego 78384
Picking the right dental assistant school near San Diego TX is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest 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 two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any San Diego dental practice and can perform a myriad of tasks. Their primary job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Texas dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are asked to complete, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Texas dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a San Diego dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant 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 assisting the Texas practice, work 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 each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. After 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 & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Texas community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often 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 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 as well. Some programs also offer internships with San Diego area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your San Diego home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental online program is the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing San Diego area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Texas colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. San Diego area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of San Diego area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one 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 Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many San Diego area dental colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real San Diego dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Texas colleges you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs 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 related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 78384 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near San Diego at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need 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 due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Dental College near San Diego TXSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options offered to obtain 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 programs usually receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.