Dental Hygiene Programs Overview
If a career with a competitive salary and faster-than-average job growth sounds appealing, check out the field of dental hygiene. Dental hygienists can enter the workforce with as little as a certificate or associate degree, and may choose to work their way up to a master's or doctorate degree in dentistry. In addition to cleaning teeth and examining patients for signs of oral disease, dental hygienists also educate patients to improve and maintain their oral health. Learn more about the path to becoming a dental hygienist and get tips on which features to look for in a dental hygiene program below. This page includes a breakdown of the different types of hygiene schools and courses, and includes a list of the best dental hygiene programs in the country.
Best Dental Hygiene Programs
With new dental hygiene programs popping up all over the nation, it can be hard for students to know which schools offer the best options. Take a look at the list below, which ranks the best schools in the nation based on a variety of factors, and describes some of the top choices to give prospective students a look at top programs at-a-glance.
Ability to pass the Western Regional Examining Board and the National Dental Hygiene Board tests are benefits associated with the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene degree. The school operates a dental hygiene clinic that students can practice in. Core curriculum subjects include pharmacology, pathology of oral tissues, oral pain and principals of dental health. A clinical practicum and a clinical seminar are held during the latter semesters. Grades in core dental hygiene classes cannot drop below 75 percent. An academic advisor is available to help full-time students develop a schedule that keeps them on track to graduate within two years.
Dental hygienists work under the supervision of licensed dentists. Idaho State University's four year dental hygienist degree instructs students on basic and complex skills and knowledge needed in the healthcare field. Freshman and transfer students are accepted. The Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree provides adults with soft and technical skills. Among these skills are community disease prevention, tooth morphology, dental materials, leadership and health policy and oral pathology. During clinical sessions, students learn how to perform root planting, apply fluoride therapy and develop x-rays. Opportunity to get advanced training is offered through the school's Master of Science in Dental Hygiene program.
The Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene is the more advanced of two dental hygiene degrees offered at New York University. The school based in the Northeast also offers students the chance to earn a 17 month fast track Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene degree. A minimum of 128 credits are needed to finish the bachelor degree. Under Track A, students get their basic dental hygiene foundation and their advanced training at New York University. The accelerated Track A option accepts some transfer credits, allowing students to graduate sooner. Under Track B, students are allowed to complete their entire two year training at the university or another accredited school. Courses adhere to technical and health standards. Prerequisites are required to start the trainings. Throughout the year, New York University hosts healthcare and informational sessions that are related to the dental programs.
Lake Washington Institute of Technology adheres to a competitive admissions process as it regards selecting students for its dental hygiene program. Adults interested in the program should review and complete prerequisite courses early. Deadline for fall classes is as soon as March. Information sessions are available. During these sessions, the school provides details on the application process and fields applicant questions. Clinical and laboratory training occur at the institute's on campus clinic, a facility that is designed with individual dental stations. Students also complete clinical training at approved medical facilities in Seattle. Students who successfully complete the program receive an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene.
Adults who are accepted into the Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene program at Eastern Florida State College acquire dental hygiene skills in an on-site laboratory. The laboratory resembles an actual dental clinic. Classroom learning teaches students about topics such as oral pathology, pain control, chemistry and periodontology. An admissions counselor or academic advisor lets students know if they need to take developmental or prerequisite courses before they start taking degree specific classes. Real life procedures that students perform in the laboratory include teeth cleaning, applying antibiotics and developing radiographs.
All students seeking a bachelor degree in dental hygiene at the University of Maine at Augusta are required to meet with an advisor before classes start. Instructors teach students about dental hygiene topics like oral health nutrition, dental radiology and community dentistry. Techniques to reduce patient anxiety and pain before and after they receive dental procedures are other skills that instructors offer students. During the second and third year of courses, students must attend classes every weekday in person. A background check, up-to-date immunization record and a CPR certification must be submitted with new student applications.
The College of Southern Nevada confers two undergraduate dental hygiene degrees. Both the Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene and the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene prepare adults to enter careers as dental hygienists. Training in the bachelor program combines clinical, classroom and field experience. Although students can transfer from the associate program into the bachelor degree option, the school also accepts transfers from other accredited institutions. Out-of-state students are also accepted. The Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities accredits the bachelor degree program. Students who complete their associate training at the school are expected to earn state and national certifications before they pursue the bachelor degree.
Classroom courses are only a portion of the University of Southern Indiana's Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene curriculum. Clinical and laboratory training is also provided. Classes sizes are small. A true test of what students learn occurs in real life dental care settings during community dental health sessions. These sessions take place at the university's onsite dental clinic. To broaden their learning, students can also get a certificate in dental assisting or local anesthesia for dental hygienists. Credits from certificate programs may be transferrable into the four-year option.
At Broward College, there are three paths to gain a dental hygiene education. Shortest of the three programs is the Applied Technical Diploma in Dental Assisting. Time commitment required to complete this program is 12 months for full-time students. The two other paths lead to an associate degree. There is the Associate in Science in Dental Assisting and the Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene. For all three paths, clinical training is provided at the Broward Dental Research Clinic. The clinic was established in 1975 and offers students the chance to experience performing dental procedures in real time.
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Earn an associate of applied science degree in dental hygiene from Atlanta Technical College through their two year, six semester program and begin working upon graduation. This nationally accredited program teaches students how to perform oral prophylaxis, check for signs of disease in the mouth, head, and neck, perform and develop radiographs, how to educate patients on good oral hygiene, and apply fluoride treatments and sealants in a professional setting such as a private dental practice. The college offers academic advising, tutoring, learning support, and computer lab services. Federal financial aid is available as well as veteran's benefits and scholarship opportunities.
Students working toward their associate in science degree in dental hygiene at Blue Grass Community and Technical College of Kentucky work under the supervision of a dentist at an on-site clinic to learn the techniques of this career. The curriculum includes general education courses in addition to those specific to dental hygiene procedures. The clinical experience in conjunction with classroom education, helps students succeed in this demanding profession. The college provides a teaching and learning center, tutoring support, as well as career and job placement services to help students achieve their academic goals.
Through the dental hygiene program at Owens Community College in Ohio, students can earn an associate of applied science degree and become eligible to take regional, state, and national exams to become certified. Curriculum provides students with a comprehensive education focusing on preparing them to perform functions such as scaling and polishing teeth, taking and developing x-rays, applying fluoride treatments and sealants, patient education, and teaching oral hygiene techniques. With an on-campus child care center, fitness center, and many other activities, students stay engaged in campus life. They also offer guidance counseling, career coaching, as well as scholarships and financial aid.
Adults interested in a dental hygienist career could earn a diploma in two semesters at Western Iowa Tech Community College. Classroom training isn't all that is required to graduate with the diploma. Students must keep at least a 2.0 GPA. The minimum GPA is needed in dental hygiene courses and electives. To graduate, students must also complete clinical and laboratory training. At the end of the program, students qualify to sit for the Dental Assisting National Board Examination. If they pass the exam, they receive a national dental assistant certification. Depending on the state that they practice dental hygiene in, passing the exam may also help students to meet state board licensing or certification criteria.
A goal of Moreno Valley College's Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene degree is to prepare students to enter the healthcare profession as dental assistants. Graduates of the program are also taught about health promotion, patient care and how to use dental equipment. At the end of the first year of school, students can sit for the National Dental Hygiene Board exam. Passing the exam can help students to meet state licensing board requirements. Annually, about 20 students are enrolled in the two year training. The program is segmented into fall and spring semesters, one summer session and winter sessions.
Truckee Meadows Community College's dental hygiene training can be completed in two years. The school takes a tri-learning approach. Instruction is delivered in the classroom, in a clinical setting and in a laboratory. Enrollment maximizes at about 14 students a year, because the college wants classes to remain small. Applications are accepted until February. Adults who earn high scores on the Accuplacer exam could increase their chances of getting accepted into the program. Prospective students can meet with college and dental hygiene administrators during an information night, an event that precedes the start of classes.
Classes that lead to Central Community College's Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene degree are taught at the school's Hastings campus. In addition to lectures and written assignments, students practice what they learn in an actual laboratory. Practical experience is realized in a supervised 15-chair dental clinic. Prerequisites in subjects like microbiology, sociology and psychology are required to start classes. Additionally, vaccinations, passing college entrance exam scores and a minimum 2.0 GPA in-non prerequisite courses are needed to get admitted into the program.
Training to enter a dental hygienist career is available through Pasadena City College's Dental Hygiene Associate in Science degree. Prerequisites cover math, communications, nutrition, psychology and sociology. The college posts course schedules in its WebCMS system. Places where graduates could work include community clinics, schools, hospitals and private dental offices. Pasadena City College also offers a certificate dental hygiene program. Students who attend class full-time can typically graduate with their degree in two years. Both the two-year and the certificate program are accredited by the American Dental Association and the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
Classes for Wallace State Community College's Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene are intentionally kept small. Adults interested in earning the degree are encouraged to attend the college's dental hygiene information session. During information sessions, students learn about specific prerequisites associated with the program. Reservations are required to attend the sessions. Skills that adults gain during the associate degree program teach them how to exam teeth, including dentures. Students also gain skills to clean teeth, develop x-rays and perform minor dental treatments. Oral pathology, clinical dental hygiene and dental radiology are types of courses that instructors teach.
An Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene is offered at the Tulsa Community College Metro campus. Classes are held each year. But, generally only 14 students are allowed to attend the classes annually. Graduating from the program prepares adults to educate the public on how to prevent gum diseases and tooth decay. Graduates of the program also learn how to use laboratory equipment and syringes and perform CPR. It's important that applicants are community members in good standing, as legal convictions and health field suspensions could hamper chances of being accepted into the degree program.