Before one can work as a dental hygienist, certain criteria must first be met.
Dental Hygienist Prerequisites
All dental hygienist programs require a high school diploma or equivalent, college entrance scores, and most have a minimum age requirement of 18.
These will differ by program and if students earn a certificate or degree. Some of the more general courses are:
Introductory Biology – This course is an introduction to the basic processes of living organisms. Covered topics include metabolism, cellular reproduction, and photosynthesis.
Microbiology – During this course, students learn how cells and tissues are organized and their homeostatic processes.
Mathematics for Health Careers – Students learn the computational skills needed to study in health career programs. Topics include fractions, percents, decimals, and measurement.
Introduction to Psychology – This course introduces students to the human behavior and mental processes.
Introduction to Nutrition – Students will study the biochemistry of the essential nutrients, nutritional needs within the life cycle, and current nutritional issues.
Freshman Composition – This is a writing workshop course that includes reading assignments, group learning activities, and essay draft workshops.
Advanced Composition – This course focuses on critical reading skills and the research process necessary for advanced college writing.
These are some of the courses that programs may require students to take:
Anesthesia – Dental hygienists are often permitted by state law to administer anesthesia for procedures such as root canals. Special training is necessary as anesthesia can cause patients life-threatening issues if it’s not administered properly.
Dental Hygiene Radiology – This is the study of using radiation in a dental setting to take x-rays of the teeth and jaw.
Public Health Dentistry – This course centers around fluoridation in drinking water, public access to dental services, and other issues that affect populations.
Dental Hygiene Care Ethics – The study of ethical, moral, and professional topics as they relate to dental hygiene.
Head and Neck Anatomy – Study of the function and structure of the head and neck. General anatomy of the skull, related muscles, lymphatics of the region, and vascular and nerve supply are covered.
Pharmacology and Therapeutics – This course discusses pharmacological effects of anesthetics and drugs, adverse reactions, and their visual implications and contraindications for preoperative and postoperative care.
Community Oral Health – Students are taught the principles of public health dentistry. Dental health education and public health promotion are discussed.
Dental hygienists need to have good manual dexterity since using dental tools inside a patient’s mouth requires precision. They should also enjoy working with people from all walks of life.
Licensure or Registration
Each state requires licensure or registration, so dental hygienists need to learn their state’s specific requirements. Three of the most common ones are graduating form an accredited U.S. dental hygiene program and passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as a state or regional licensure exam. Anyone who has a serious misdemeanor or felony conviction is likely to be prohibited from earning a license. If you have either of these on your record, find out if your state will allow you to work in this profession before you enroll in a program.
Dental hygienist jobs are on the rise which is why now is the perfect time to find employment in this field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth is expected to be 33 percent until 2022, which is much faster than other occupations. You can complete your education in nine months (certificate programs only) to four years if you attend classes full-time. To learn more about this great career, please contact us. Along with prerequisites, you can also learn about a hygienists salary and job duties.