Education Requirements for Dental Hygienists

If you’re interested in becoming a dental hygienist, continue reading to learn about the educational requirements needed before you can apply for a job in this great healthcare field.

Programs are found at community colleges, career colleges, and universities. Some offer Certificates in Dental Hygiene while others allow students to earn an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Dental Hygiene or a Bachelor Degree in Dental Hygiene. However, before you can begin the application process, you’ll first need to earn a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) Certificate.

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Students may find their program’s curriculum includes some or all of the following courses:

Dental Hygiene Ethics Professionalism – Designed to help students develop and apply professional and ethical standards. They will learn how to apply the laws that govern the practice of dental hygiene to work with patients, other members of the dental team as well as the community.

Dental Health Safety – This course teaches students how to proactively respond to dental emergencies, prevent disease, control infections, safely manage hazardous materials, and adhere to OSHA standards.

Nutrition and Dental Health – Students learn how to counsel patients about diet and its impact on oral health.

Cariology – This course centers on the characteristics and contributing factors of dental decay. Students will learn how to help patients minimize the caries risk by creating treatment plans, proper patient communications, and evaluating treatment results.

Dental Pain Management – Students are taught how to work within the scope of a dental practice to manage a dental patient’s pain. They’ll learn how to  prevent and manage common emergencies related to administration of local anesthesia and more.

Education Requirements for Dental Hygienists


Oral Interpersonal Communications – Centers on developing speaking, verbal, and nonverbal communications along with listening skills through individual presentations.

Oral Anatomy Embry Histology – Prepares students to apply knowledge about oral anatomy from planning, implementation, assessment, and evaluation of patient care. Students will identify distinguishing characteristics of normal and abnormal dental, head and neck anatomy and its relationship to tooth development, eruption, and health.

Periodontology – This course explains how to assess the periodontal health of patients, plan prevention and treatment of periodontal disease, and how to evaluate the effectiveness of periodontal treatment plans.

General and Oral Pathology – This course teaches students how to determine when to consult, treat, or refer clients with various disease, infection, or physiological conditions. By course completion, students will be able to recognize the causes, signs, and implications, of pathological conditions.

Community Dental Health – Students prepare to play a proactive role in improving the dental health of community members of all ages. They’ll perform and interpret dental health research in order to determine community dental health needs.

Dental Pharmacology – This course gives students the knowledge on how to select safe and effective patient pre-medication, local anesthetic, chemo-therapeutic, and anti-microbial agents within the scope of the dental hygiene practice.

Introduction to Biochemistry – This course explains the organic and biological chemistry necessary for application with allied health careers.

Continuing Education

Another requirement is continuing education. All states require this every one to three years in order to maintain licensure. There are several types of courses available for dental hygienists to take such as:

  • Caries in Children: Recognition of and the Caries Process
  • Recognition and Management of the Diabetic Child
  • Use and Care of Portable Dental Equipment
  • Dental Management of the Pediatric Dental Patient
  • Providing Culturally Appropriate Dental Care to Children from Different Backgrounds
  • Management and Behavior Guidance Techniques for the Child Patient
  • Program Planning for the Affiliated Practice Dental Hygienist
  • Evidence-based Practice for the Affiliated Dental Hygienist
  • Overview of Affiliated Dental Hygiene Practice Management

To learn more about the dental hygienist education requirements, contact us.