A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene Degree Description

Description of the Dental Hygiene Program:

Students are prepared to become registered dental hygienists and pass an intensive theory National Board and Clinical State Board examination. Passing both examinations is required for licensure and employment. The Dental Hygiene Program offers a two and three consecutive semester preparatory Dental Hygiene course of study for those students who do not meet the regular entrance requirements.
The program endeavors to prepare students to successfully demonstrate:

  • Ethics, values, skills, and knowledge integral to all aspects of the profession;

  • General knowledge of wellness, health determinants, and characteristics of various patient/client communities and to emphasize both prevention of disease and effective health-care delivery to diverse populations in a variety of settings;

  • Skills to assess, diagnose, plan, implement and evaluate treatment to diverse populations;


Compassion. Sometimes patients are in extreme pain or have fears about undergoing dental work, and the hygienist must be sensitive to their emotions.
Detail oriented. Dental hygienists must follow specific rules and protocols to help dentists diagnose and treat a patient. In rare cases, dental hygienists work without the direct supervision of a dentist.
Dexterity. Dental hygienists must be good at working with their hands. They generally work in tight quarters on a small part of the body, using very precise tools and instruments.
Interpersonal skills. Dental hygienists must work closely with dentists and patients.
Physical stamina. Dental hygienists should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as bending over patients for a long time.


Employment Opportunities:

Hygienists are in demand in general dental practices and in specialty practices such as periodontics or pediatric dentistry. They also may be employed to provide dental hygiene services for patients in hospitals, nursing homes and public health clinics. Depending upon the level of education and experience achieved, dental hygienists can apply their skills and knowledge to other career activities such as teaching hygiene students in dental schools and dental hygiene education programs.

Employment Outlook:

Employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Ongoing research linking oral health and general health will continue to spur the demand for preventive dental services.

Career Path: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-hygienists.htm

The median annual wage for dental hygienists was $72,910 in May 2016.  Dental hygienists typically need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. All states require dental hygienists to be licensed; requirements vary by state.  A bachelor's or master's degree is usually required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs.
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