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Dental Hygiene Schools

The Benefits of Dental Hygiene Schools

Finding the right dental hygiene schools is just the first step to becoming a dental hygienist.  Receiving the proper education is essential to getting the licensure and other qualifications needed in the field.  Entry-level programs provide prospective hygienists with associate degrees, bachelor degrees or certificates.  Licensed hygienists with professional education can move on to degree completion programs or even master’s degree programs.

Entry-level programs must have accreditation from the Commission on Dental Accreditation.  They all tend to have the same basic requirements of prospective students: a high school diploma or GED; courses in biology, chemistry, English and math resulting in a minimum C average; good scores on a college entrance exam; and some other personal statement such as a dexterity test, essay or interview.  Many programs focus on the college science GPA more than the overall GPA when deciding who to enroll but may consider both.

These schools typically have an extensive curriculum.  Before beginning actual training in the field, students must satisfactorily pass other courses in the humanities such as English, psychology, sociology and speech as well as science courses like anatomy, biochemistry, general chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, pathology, pharmacology and physiology.  The dental science aspect of the program includes courses in dental anatomy, dental materials, head and neck anatomy, oral embryology and histology, oral pathology and periodontology.  Finally, the dental hygiene science courses comprise of clinical dental hygiene, community dental health, medical and dental emergencies, oral health education or preventive counseling and patient management.  Students also get supervised field experience with pre-clinical and clinical practice.

There are more than 300 entry level programs available all over the country.  There are 55 programs offering Bachelor of Science degrees and 20 that provide Master of Science degrees.  A few programs offer elective courses and a small number have specialization tracks.  Not surprisingly, the programs have an overwhelmingly female student body.  However, it may be surprising to learn that many of them enter the field after working or having been educated in another field.  Some programs may even require students to complete a clinical rotation within a specified community or public health facility.