Dental assistants play a big role in any dental office. In California you’ll have over 75 different schools to choose from for your educational needs. They are the typically the first person that the patients meet when they come into the office and are the ones that are responsible for calming the patient down before they see the dentist. Some of the main roles you’ll be responsible for in your new role include:
Assistance – As the name implies you’ll be assisting the dentist with different roles in the office including the procedures.
X-Rays – You’ll need to be certified in order to take x-rays but it is something you’ll want to have in order to stay with a dental office. The certification is easy and the school you attend will more than likely offer this is a separate course.
Problem Solver – You’ll be surprised how many different issues and situations come into the dental office. If your dentist performs surgeries then you’ll be exposed to lots of different surgical situations that you could help out on.
Cleaning – Most of the time your job will be helping the dental hygienist with normal routine cleanings. You’ll take impressions and even prepare molds and castings.
Education – Part of your role as a dental assistant is to educate your patients. Education starts at an early age with kids who need to know the proper way of oral hygiene. Even adults sometimes need a crash course on oral care once they start seeing problems arise.
Front Office – Depending on the size of the dental office some assistants will help out in the front office as well. These duties include updating patient history, setting appointments and restocking materials.
Tools – You’ll need to sterilize tools as part of your role and this includes instruments that the dentist will use but also the equipment they use for each patient.
We receive a lot of questions daily from individuals looking for the best dental assisting school at attend in California. I’m here to tell you that there is not one single thing to look at when evaluating schools as every school will be different in how they teach as well as what they teach. Also we wouldn’t trust any rating site as the final decision is up to you and how comfortable you feel with the school. With that said we recommend looking into the areas below to better help you make your decision.
Qualified Instructors – You will only be as good as the instructors that teach you. The vocational school you are looking into should have qualified instructors with years of actual dental assisting experience.
Reputation – The reputation of the school plays a big factor in what we consider to be a good school. Does the school specialize in dental assisting programs? Are they known in the area of California you are looking in attending of graduating and finding jobs for their graduates? These are just some of the areas you need to look into and get some proven stats on before you enroll.
Tuition Cost – The cost of your dental program in California will differ depending on if the program is a certificate or degree granting program. Most programs will range from $15,000-$19,000 for a certificate program where a degree could be $20,000-$25,000+
Location – No school in California can properly train you as a dental assistant online. Some schools might have online components but it can’t be 100% online so I would stay away from any school making this claim. The location of your campus should be close to your home or work so you aren’t wasting time driving. Also your externship might be close to the school so it is advised to find a school close to you.
Ronda Jones, Dental Assisting at Smile Dental in Los Angeles, CA
What got you interested in becoming a dental assistant?
My father is actually a dentist so I naturally always considered becoming a dentist. For me I have always enjoyed helping others and during my senior year we had a school career day where I was able to learn more about the career.
What did you like about your training?
I originally enrolled in a school but wasn’t receiving the education I was told so I dropped out after the first 2 weeks. Most schools have a grace period where you can cancel so don’t ever feel you are stuck in a school if after the first week something doesn’t seem right. I finally found a school that I absolutely loved and graduated with my DA certificate within 14 months.
How was your externship?
I really enjoyed my externship mainly because the office hired me while I was doing my externship. I needed to finish my program first but as I was doing my externship I was able to work part-time in the front office. I’ve been working as a dental assistant now for 4 years at the same office and will soon be transferring over to a new facility which I’ll have more responsibilities.
What are your career goals?
For now I really like where I work but I still have dreams of one day becoming a dentist. I’m only 25 so I have plenty of time if I ever wanted to go back to school.