What You Need to Know About a Dental Hygienist’s Education

Students have many choices when it comes to choosing a dental hygienist program as there are approximately three hundred scattered throughout the United States.

Here’s What You Need to Know About a Dental Hygienist’s Education

Questions to Ask Before Applying

You should ask several questions before applying to a dental hygienist program because they are not all created equal. They include:

  • How many students gain acceptance into the program each year?
  • Is the program approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation? Don’t apply if it isn’t.
  • What are the admission requirements?
  • Does the program prepare students for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination?
  • What is the graduation rate?
  • What are the costs associated with the program?
  • Is full-time attendance required?
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Admission Requirements

Each program has its own set of admission guidelines, however, they are fairly similar and are likely to include:

Prerequisite Coursework

These courses include General Chemistry and Lab, General Anatomy and Lab, General Biology and Lab, General Microbiology, General Nutrition, General Psychology, English Composition, Introduction to Speech, and Introduction to Sociology.

Other Requirements

  • Grades of C or higher in all prerequisite courses
  • Background check
  • Observing a registered dental hygienist in a dental setting for a certain number of hours

Dental Hygienist's Education


Interview Questions

A faculty member or a committee is likely to ask you to come in for an interview as part of the admittance process. Questions will be similar to the following:

  • Why do you want to become a dental hygienist?
  • What do you know about our program?
  • In which dental setting do you wish to work after graduation?
  • Can you explain what a dental hygienist does?
  • Why do you want to work as a hygienist as opposed to a dental assistant or dentist?
  • How do you handle conflict?
  • What are your academic strengths?

Financial Aid

Financial aid such as federal work-study options, federal supplemental opportunity grants, Pell Grants, Perkins Loans, and Stafford Loans may be available to students in a dental hygiene program


The courses will depend on the school and if students attain an associate or bachelor’s degree. Some of the ones you may take are:

Community Dentistry – This course is designed to give students an introduction to principles of dental public health, epidemiology, and the roles hygienists play in promoting oral health within their community.

Dental Practice Emergencies – Students learn how to prevent and manage life-threatening medical emergencies in a dental setting.

Biomaterials – This course consists of both lecture and lab and its purpose is to familiarize students with the different types of materials used in dentistry.

Health Education Methods – Students receive an introduction to public health and dental public health concepts, including exposure to the principles of health literacy and cultural sensitivity.

Dental Radiology – This course gives students the knowledge and skills needed to use diagnostic imaging in a dental practice including radiation physics, radiation biology and protection, and radiographic quality evaluation.

Clinical Dental Hygiene – Designed to give students a foundation for knowledge, theories, concepts, and clinical skills required for competent dental hygiene practice.

Oral Anatomy – A lecture and lab course that teaches students about the morphology, function, and structure of the teeth and surrounding tissue.


Below is a list of schools that may interest you:

  • Columbus State Community College – Columbus, Ohio
  • Phoenix College – Phoenix College
  • Utah College of Dental Hygiene – Orem, Utah
  • Foothill College – Los Altos, California
  • Broward College – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Tennessee State University – Nashville, Tennessee
  • Community College of Denver – Denver, Colorado
  • Community College of Philadelphia – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Becoming a dental hygienist requires a lot of studying, but it leads to a great career helping patients maintain good oral health. To learn more, please contact us.