Dental Hygiene Information

Mission Statement

Oakland Community College's Dental Hygiene program is dedicated to providing a studentcentered learning environment focused on preparing students to succeed as competent licensed dental hygienists through the development of their psychomotor, cognitive and affective skills.

Program Goals

  • Goal 1: KNOWLEDGE | To provide a student centered learning environment through a curriculum that integrates general biomedical science, current dental hygiene theories and dental sciences.
  • Goal 2: CLINICAL COMPETENCETo train students to become dental hygienists who provide quality patient-centered preventive and therapeutic care for patients through the dental hygiene standard of care which involves assessment, diagnosis, implementation and ongoing evaluation as reflected by the OCC Dental Hygiene Competencies for the Dental Hygienist.
  • Goal 3: COMMUNICATION SKILLS | To prepare students to become dental hygienists who competently communicate using interpersonal skills to interact with patients, patients' families and fellow members of the health care team to deliver optimal oral hygiene care.
  • Goal 4: PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIORS | To prepare students to become dental hygienists who demonstrate competent professional behavior, critical thinking, and problem solving skills and adhere to the standard of care, legal and ethical principles of the dental hygiene profession.
  • Goal 5: HEALTH PROMOTION/DISEASE PREVENTION | To educate students to become dental hygienists who competently perform the six interrelated roles of the professional dental hygienist: administrator/manager, change agent, clinician, client advocate, educator/oral health promoter and researcher.
  • Goal 6: PROFESSIONAL GROWTH/DEVELOPMENT | To help students develop into dental hygienists who realize the enrichment of lifelong learning on their professional growth that includes self-assessment and the ability to analyze the value of current research.
  • Goal 7: EVIDENCE BASED DECISION-MAKING | To prepare students to become dental hygienists who competently apply evidence-based decision making skills to the process of dental hygiene in order to improve the quality of patient care and recognize the role lifelong learning has in providing evidence-based oral hygiene care.

Competencies

To ensure the graduating students are prepared for all aspects of a career in clinical dental hygiene, the program faculty has developed seven competencies the students will develop as they progress through the program. The competencies were developed based on the current standards of the profession as revealed through evidence-based research.

1.1 Assessment:

The students will learn to systematically collect data from the patients treated. This competency includes:

Health Assessment

  • Development of patient rapport through the use of effective interviewing and
    communication skills
  • Obtain medical, dental, and social histories
  • Research the medications and their dental implications that patients report taking
  • Take the vitals of patients and evaluate them to establish patients' ASA
  • Maintain patients’ records as legal documents
  • Perform comprehensive examinations:
    • of the head and neck
    • intra- and extra oral tissues
    • oral cancer screening
    • determine patients’ need for referrals: medical and/or dental

Risk Assessment

  • Completes a periodontal and dental charting
  • Takes radiographs: periapicals, panoramic, and /or digital
  • Digital imaging (intra oral photographs)
  • Periodontal and caries risk assessment indices
  • Identifies patients at risk for potential medical and/or dental emergencies
  • Takes measures to reduce the risk to patients for emergencies
  • Should an emergency arise, manages the patient and the emergency following the clinic and college's procedure

2.1 Diagnosis:

The students will use critical thinking to evaluate a patient's collected assessments, and the attending dentist's diagnosis to determine the patient's dental hygiene diagnosis. 

This competency includes:

  • Using critical thinking to develop a dental hygiene care plan based on the collected
    assessments
  • Using the collected assessments to determine the patient's need for consultations
    and/or referrals prior to treatment
  • Collaborates with the attending dentist to obtain a dental diagnosis

3.1 Planning:

The students will use the results of their collected assessments, the attending dentist's diagnosis, and in collaboration with other health professionals as needed to develop a comprehensive patient-centered dental hygiene care plan that is evidence-based on current scientific research.

This competency includes:

  • Creates a formalized dental hygiene care plan that presents a care sequence based on the dental hygiene diagnosis, assessment data, and risk factors of the patient
  • Develops a dental hygiene care plan with the patient by prioritizing the care to berendered based on the patient's health and socio-economic status
  • Establishes a collaborative relationship with the patient by delivering a case presentation that explains the dental and dental hygiene care plans, provides options, and alternatives
  • Seeks consultations and/or referrals prior to treatment if needed
  • Obtains the patient's informed consent or informed refusal prior to implementing the dental and dental hygiene care plans

4.1 Implementation:

The students will provide individualized treatment designed for the patients based on his/her assessments and diagnosis and may include periodontal debridement, therapeutic care, and patient education following established standards of care in a safe patient-centered environment.

This competency includes:

  • The ability to determine the supportive care equipment needed to provide dental
    hygiene interventions including:
    • Knowledge of equipment set-up and disinfection.
    • Aseptic techniques
    • Maintenance following the standard of care for infection control and aseptic
      protocols
  • Use of the principles of hand or mechanized instrumentation for periodontal debridement and therapeutic care
  • Applies the five phases of the dental hygiene process of care (assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, evaluation) to patient care by considering the social and cultural needs of the patient when promoting the values of oral and general health through education, health promotion, and disease prevention strategies
  • Uses behavior modification and/or psychological techniques to manage patient comfort/pain and/or fear while providing safe patient care and accepted clinical techniques during dental hygiene interventions
  • Renders health promotion through dental health education, techniques and instructions for the use of oral physiotherapy aids
  • Provides dental hygiene services such as:
    • Mouth Guards
    • Smoking Cassation
    • Chemotherapeutic Agents
    • Sub-Gingival Irrigation
    • Sealants
    • Local Anesthetic and nitrous oxide administration
    • Scaling and polishing and periodontal debridement
    • Dietary Analysis
    • Amalgam Polishing
    • Bleach Trays
    • Study Models
    • Fluoride and Fluoride Varnish

5.1 Evaluation:

The students will evaluate their own performance in the delivery of safe, competent, preventive care for patients.

This competency includes:

  • On-going evaluation of the performance of professional skills, knowledge and outcomes of the dental hygiene care rendered and makes modifications as needed
  • Application of evidence-based decision making through the use of scientific based technology and information systems to collect, process, analyze, and evaluate data
  • On-going evaluation of the patient's ability to maintain an effective re-care program
  • On-going evaluation of the patient's ability to reach and maintain determined oral health goals
  • Routinely evaluates the patient's satisfaction with the standard of care received in the dental hygiene clinic

6.1 Professional Growth and Development:


The students will make professional decisions to fulfill the legal responsibilities to the profession and will actively pursue professional development by using continuing education resources.

This competency includes:

  • Upholds the state and federal laws pertaining to dental hygiene
  • Assumes responsibility for the dental hygiene professional image by providing the accepted standard of care for patients and promoting patient wellness and quality of life
  • Provides community oral health services in a variety of settings through the use of effective communication and clinical skills
  • Advances the profession of dental hygiene through life-long learning and professional growth by service to the community and professional associations

7.1 Evidence-Based Decision Making (EBDM)

The student will integrate the systematic assessment of clinical scientific evidence directly related to the patient's oral and medical condition and collaborates with the attending dentists and/or clinical instructors to meet the patients' treatment needs.

This competency includes:

  • Applies evidence-based decision making through the use of scientific based technology and information systems to collect, process, and analyze data
  • Makes clinical decisions about the care needed to meet the patient's treatment needs by using effective and efficient diagnosis
  • Applies educational competencies for evidence-based decision making in the process of rendering dental hygiene care
  • Uses Population, Intervention, Comparison and Outcomes (PICO) questions to apply the following skills:
    o skill 1: Formulates PICO questions
    o skill 2: Conducts computerized search
    o skill 3: Critically appraises the evidence
    o skill 4: Applies the results to the patient
    o skill 5: Evaluates the process and self-evaluates performance

ADEA Competencies for Entry into the Profession of Dental Hygiene Dental hygienists must complete an accredited educational program and qualify for licensure in any state or jurisdiction. They practice in collaboration with dental and other health care professionals in a variety of settings.

Core Competencies (C)

  • C.1   Apply a professional code of ethics in all endeavors.
  • C.2   Adhere to state and federal laws, recommendations, and regulations in the provision of oral health care.
  • C.3   Use critical thinking skills and comprehensive problem-solving to identify oral health care strategies that promote patient health and wellness.
  • C.4   Use evidence-based decision making to evaluate emerging technology and treatment modalities to integrate into patient dental hygiene care plans to achieve high-quality, cost-effective care.
  • C.5   Assume responsibility for professional actions and care based on accepted scientific theories, research, and the accepted standard of care.
  • C.6   Continuously perform self-assessment for lifelong learning and professional growth.
  • C.7   Integrate accepted scientific theories and research into educational, preventive, and therapeutic oral health services.
  • C.8   Promote the values of the dental hygiene profession through service-based activities, positive community affiliations, and active involvement in local organizations.
  • C.9     Apply quality assurance mechanisms to ensure continuous commitment to accepted standards of care.
  • C.10   Communicate effectively with diverse individuals and groups, serving all persons without discrimination by acknowledging and appreciating diversity.
  • C.11   Record accurate, consistent, and complete documentation of oral health services provided.
  • C.12 Initiate a collaborative approach with all patients when developing individualized care plans that are specialized, comprehensive, culturally sensitive, and acceptable to all parties involved in care planning.
  • C.13 Initiate consultations and collaborations with all relevant health care providers to facilitate optimal treatments.
  • C.14 Manage medical emergencies by using professional judgment, providing life support, and utilizing required CPR and any specialized training or knowledge.

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HP)

  • HP.1  Promote positive values of overall health and wellness to the public and organizations within and outside the profession.
  • HP.2  Respect the goals, values, beliefs, and preferences of all patients.
  • HP.3  Refer patients who may have physiological, psychological, or social problems for comprehensive evaluation.
  • HP.4  Identify individual and population risk factors, and develop strategies that promote health-related quality of life. 
  • HP.5  Evaluate factors that can be used to promote patient adherence to disease prevention or health maintenance strategies.
  • HP.6  Utilize methods that ensure the health and safety of the patient and the oral health professional in the delivery of care. 

Community Involvement (CM)

  • CM.1 Assess the oral health needs and services of the community to determine action plans and availability of resources to meet the health care needs.
  • CM.2 Provide screening, referral, and educational services that allow patients to access the resources of the health care system.
  • CM.3 Provide community oral health services in a variety of settings.
  • CM.4 Facilitate patient access to oral health services by influencing individuals or organizations for the provision of oral health care.
  • CM.5 Evaluate reimbursement mechanisms and their impact on the patient’s access to oral health care.
  • CM.6 Evaluate the outcomes of community-based programs, and plan for future activities.
  • CM.7 Advocate for effective oral health care for underserved populations. 

Patient Care (PC) | Assessment

  • PC.1 Systematically collect, analyze, and record diagnostic data on the general, oral, and psychosocial health status of a variety of patients using methods consistent with medicolegal principles.
  • PC.2 Recognize predisposing and etiologic risk factors that require intervention to prevent disease.
  • PC.3 Recognize the relationships among systemic disease, medications, and oral health that impact overall patient care and treatment outcomes.
  • PC.4 Identify patients at risk for a medical emergency, and manage the patient care in a manner that prevents an emergency. 

Dental Hygiene Diagnosis

  • PC.5 Use patient assessment data, diagnostic technologies, and critical decision making skills to determine a dental hygiene diagnosis, a component of the dental diagnosis, to reach conclusions about the patient’s dental hygiene care needs. 

Planning

  • PC.6 Utilize reflective judgment in developing a comprehensive patient dental hygiene care plan.
  • PC.7 Collaborate with the patient and other health professionals as indicated to formulate a comprehensive dental hygiene care plan that is patient-centered and based on the best scientific evidence and professional judgment.
  • PC.8 Make referrals to professional colleagues and other health care professionals as indicated in the patient care plan.
  • PC.9 Obtain the patient’s informed consent based on a thorough case presentation

Implementation

  • PC.10 Provide specialized treatment that includes educational, preventive, and therapeutic services designed to achieve and maintain oral health. Partner with the patient in achieving oral health goals.

Evaluation

  • PC.11 Evaluate the effectiveness of the provided services, and modify care plans as needed.
  • PC.12 Determine the outcomes of dental hygiene interventions using indices, instruments, examination techniques, and patient self-reports as specified in patient goals.
  • PC.13 Compare actual outcomes to expected outcomes, reevaluating goals, diagnoses, and services when expected outcomes are not achieved.

Professional Growth and Development (PGD)

  • PGD.1 Pursue career opportunities within health care, industry, education, research, and other roles as they evolve for the dental hygienist.
  • PGD.2 Develop practice management and marketing strategies to be used in the delivery of oral PGD.3 Access professional and social networks to pursue professional goals. 

Accreditation of the Program

The Oakland Community College Dental Hygiene Program is accredited, and follows the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) Accreditation Standards for Dental Hygiene Education Programs.

Program Information

A. Selection Information:

There are many more students interested in and eligible for the Dental Hygiene program than the Highland Lakes Campus can accommodate in any single year. Therefore, it is necessary that priorities be established for admission to Dental Hygiene Program.

This memorandum and the College Catalog are the only official sources of information pertaining to the Dental Hygiene Selection Procedures. They apply only to those students who wish to enter the first Dental Hygiene courses. All students seeking information about the Dental Hygiene program should contact a counselor at any of the Oakland Community College Campuses.

If there are any incomplete (I’s) on your record, they must be processed through the Office of the Academic Dean two (2) weeks prior to the close of the Fall Term. Candidates with any incompletes (I) on their records must have their records processed through the office of the Academic Dean two (2) weeks prior to the close of Fall Term.

B. Selection Eligibility:

To be eligible for selection, all requirements and procedures for admission (outlined in student brochure and information sessions) must be completed by no later than December 15th of the year in which the student is intending to enroll in the dental hygiene program. Applicants will be notified in writing about the result no later than April 15th. Only students who have been accepted will receive a letter of acceptance.

Once accepted into the program you must attend a mandatory orientation designated by the program coordinator to ensure your acceptance for the fall semester. A student who wishes to be considered for acceptance in the program who has a lower grade point average than the determined average for that selection year should consider re-taking courses to improve their overall pre-requisite grade point average. Please notify the program coordinator in advance that you will be re-taking a course(s) so she may remain informed of your intentions. In addition it will be imperative that you have another final checklist completed to be considered for selection. This must be submitted prior to December 15th even if you have not completed the coursework.

In addition, the candidate will need a score of 75% or better on the Health Profession HESI Admission Examination. This admission exam will cover science, reading, and math. The HESI score and the average GPA in the 8 supportive courses will be part of the primary selection criteria.

Former OCC students who have not registered for classes for a three (3) year period must reapply for admission and make certain they have a DHY curriculum designation. Students who have applied to the College but have not registered for any classes for one year must reapply. Students graduating from another program and still interested in being considered for Dental Hygiene must re-establish the DHY designation by means of a Change of Data form at a campus Enrollment Service office.

C. Basic Admission Requirements include:

  • Accredited High school graduation or GED
  • Attendance at a Dental Hygiene Information Session
  • 10 hours of job shadowing with a Registered Dental Hygienist
  • 5 hours of observation in the OCC Dental Hygiene Clinic
  • Completion of each Required Supportive Courses with a 2.0 “C” or better: BIO1570 or BIO-2710, BIO-2630, BIO- 2640, CHE-13201 COM-1600, ENG-1510, PSY-2510, SOC-2510
  • Completion of a dental hygiene final checklist with a counselor at Highland Lakes when required supportive courses are completed.
  • Have a DHY curriculum designation
  • Have your official records at Highland Lakes Enrollment Services. Have an accurate address and telephone number on record
  • Have an OCC transcript evaluation if you are a transfer student. Have obtained written approval for any course substitution
  • At your appointment with a HL counselor be sure to bring a copy (can be unofficial) of any or all course(s) taken with letter grade(s) from other colleges or universities, this must be attached to your final checklist
    • If you have not completed all of your pre-requisite courses and would like an “unofficial” final checklist to be completed with a counselor, this may be done at any time with an appointment.
  • Successful completion of the Health Profession HESI Admission Exam.

These courses must be taken within a five-year period, which dates from the session during which the course was taken and closes at the session during which the student begins DHY 1230. If more than five years elapse, you must successfully complete a science review course offered by the Dental Hygiene program prior to enrollment into the program

Notes: COM 1290, Interpersonal Communications, will not be accepted as a course substitute for COM 1600. No Course Substitution necessary for BIO 2710.

D. Additional Admission Requirements Once Selected into the Program:

  • Once selected into the program, student will be contacted by the Program Coordinator to schedule a records review.
  • Records review is initiated by the Program Co-Coordinator in February/March for the top 35 candidates
  • Once selected into the program a background check, drug screening, and fingerprinting will be required. Instructions for this will be included in the selection package. (According to Michigan State Law, a graduate can be denied licensure if there is a record of felony or misdemeanor. Please speak with Mrs. Fox if this applies to you)
  • Once selected into the program the student will be required to complete a Basic Life Saving-Health Care Provider Course. Instructions for this will be included in the selection package which will be distributed to the candidate at the Records Review

E. Other Program/College Requirements & Information

  1. The nutrition course HEA 1510 may be taken in the first year of the dental hygiene program, however it is recommended that this course is completed prior to acceptance as it is a pre-requisite prior to registration for the fourth term DHY 1283.
  2. All transfer students must complete the last 15 credit hours at OCC.
  3. In addition to the credits required by the dental hygiene program, the college requires the following courses for the Associate in Applied Science Degree:
    • 3 credit hours of HUM
  4. Prior to entry into the dental hygiene program and in addition to tuition and textbooks, dental hygiene students incur extra costs such as pre-admission health examinations, uniforms, supplies, ADHA affiliation, licensure application fees and costs, and pinning ceremony expenses.
  5. The dental hygiene website that contains pertinent information can be found by clicking here: www.oaklandcc.edu/health/dental-hygiene/
    A placement test in now REQUIRED for any student registering for BIO 1570 and BIO 2630.
  6. BIO 2710 or BIO 1570 is accepted.

F. Approximate Extraneous Program Costs:

Additional costs above and beyond tuition and books include:
  • Instrument Kit approx. $2,100.00
  • Bookstore: scrubs/lab coat approx.$180.00
  • Sharpening stone approx. $60.00
  • Ultrasonic inserts approx. $500.00
  • ADHA membership (student component)** approx. $65.00/year
  • Malpractice Insurance approx. $50.00/year
Licensure Exams: 2019 Costs
  • National Board Dental Hygiene Exam (NBDHE) = $490.00
  • CDCA (State Clinical Exam) = $995.00
  • Anesthesia = $140.00
  • Nitrous Oxide = $135.00
  • Michigan Licensure Fee = $120.00 approximately Instrument Kit approx. $2,100.00

** This includes mandatory attendance at the annual conference in November (required for first and second year dental hygiene students)

G Dental Hygiene Curriculum:

Course No# Course Title  Credit Hours  Lecutre  Lab  Clinic
Prior to Dental Hygiene Course:          
**BIO 1570 or BIO 2710 Microbiology of Health & Disease or BIO 2710 3-4 3 0 0
**BIO 2630 Human Anatomy & Physiology I 4 4 2 0
**BIO 2640 Human Anatomy & Physiology II 4 4 2 0
**CHE 1320 Survey of Organic & Biochemistry 4 4 2 0
**ENG 1510 Composition I 3 3 0 0
**PSY 2510 Introduction to Psychology 3 3 0 0
**SOC 2510 Introduction to Sociology 3 3 0 0
**COM 1600 Fundamentals of Speech 3 3 0 0
    27-28 27 6 0
First Term: Fall          
DHY 1230 Dental Anatomy 3 2 2 0
DHY 1240 Dental Histology & Embryology 3 2 2 0
DHY 1250 Clinical Techniques 5 2 0 6
DHY 1140 Dental Office Procedures  3 3 0 0
    14 9 4 6
Second Term: Winter           
**HEA 1510  Nutrition (If not previously taken) 3 3 0 0
DHY 1260 Dental Radiography 3.5 2 3 0
DHY 2210 Oral Pathology 3 3 0 0
DHY 1281 Clinical Dental Hygiene I 4 1 0 0
DHY 1310 Periodontics 2 2 0 0
    15.5 11 3 0
Third Term: Summer           
DHY 2250 Dental Materials 3 4 3 0
DHY 1282 Clinical Dental Hygiene II 2.5 1 0 11
DHY 1350 Local Anesthesia 1.5 .5 .5 0
    7 5.5 3.5 11
Fourth Term: Fall          
DHY 1330 Dental Therapeutics 2 2 0 0
DHY 2280 Dental Health Education 2 2 0 0
DHY 1283 Clinical Dental Hygiene III 5 1 0 12+
    9 5 0 12+ rotations
Fifth Term: Winter           
DHY 2220 Public Health Dentistry 1 1 0 0
DHY 2240 Dental Specialties  2 2 0 0
DHY 2320 Dental Law 1 1 0 0
DHY 2340 Dental Hygiene Board Review (Opt) 2 2 0 0
DHY 1284 Clinical Dental Hygiene IV 5 1 0 12+
    9 5.5 0 12+ Rotations
Other College Requirements          
HUM XXX Humanities  3 3 0 0
    3 3 0 0

TOTAL NUMBER OF CREDIT HOURS 84.5 - 85
TRANSFERABLE CREDIT HOURS 34+
**Denotes college transfer 

         

H. Commitments and Responsibilities:

The Dental Hygiene program at OCC is a very fast paced and demanding program. To be successful prospective students must be willing and able to devote at least two hours per week for each credit hour of class for which you are enrolled. For example, 12 credit hours will require 24 hours of study per week. The OCC Dental Hygiene program is designed to require students to pass BOTH the Theory and Lab portions of the Dental Hygiene course. You must pass all clinic, laboratory, and theory courses each semester at 75% or better to continue and register for the following semester.

I. Program Cost:

      In District Rates          Out of District Rates
  Credits  Contact
Hours 
Billable
Contact
Hours 
Tuition Credits  Contact
Hours
Billable
Contact
Hours 
Tuition
First Term: Fall                
DHY 1230 3 4 4 $388.00 3 4 4 $752.00
DHY 1240 3 4 4 $388.00 3 4 4 $752.00
DHY 1250 5 8 8 $776.00 5 8 8 $1,504.00
DHY 1140 3 3 3 $291.00 3 3 3 $564.00
Tuition       $1,843.00       $3,572.00
Student Support Fees       $100.00       $100.00
Total for the 
First Term - Fall
      $1,943.00       $3,672.00
Second Term: Winter                 
DHY 1260 3.5 5 5 $485.00 3.5 5 5 $940.00
DHY 2210 3 3 3 $291.00 3 3 3 $564.00
DHY 1281 4 10 7 $679.00 4 10 7 $1,316.00
DHY 1310 2 2 2 $194.00 2 2 2 $376.00
Tuition        $1,649.00       $3,196.00
Student Support Fee       $100.00       $100.00
Total for the 
Second Term - Winter 
      $1,749.00       $3,296.00
Third Term: Summer                 
DHY 2250 3 6 6 $582.00 3 6 6 $1,128.00
DHY 1282 2.5 12 5.5 $533.50 2.5 12 5.5 $1,034.00
DHY 1350 1.5 2 2 $194.00 1.5 2 2 $376.00
Tuition        $1,309.50       $2,538.00
Student Support Fee       $100.00       $100.00
Total for the 
Third Term - Summer 
      $1,409.50       $2,638.00
Fourth Term: Fall                
DHY 1330  2 2 2 $194.00 2 2 2 $376.00
DHY 2280 2 2 2 $194.00 2 2 2 $376.00
DHY 1283 5 13 8 $776.00 5 13 8 $1,504.00
Tuition       $1,164.00       $2,256.00
Student Suport Fee       $100.00       $100.00
Total for the
Fourth Term - Fall
      $1,264.00       $2,356.00
Fifth Term: Winter                 
DHY 2240 2 2 2 $194.00 2 2 2 $376.00
DHY 2220 1 1 1 $97.00 1 1 1 $188.00
DHY 2320 1 1 1 $97.00 1 1 1 $188.00
DHY 1284 5 13 8 $776.00 5 13 8 $1,504.00
DHY 2340 (Optional)  2 2 2 $194.00 2 2 2 $376.00
Tuition       $1,358.00       $2,632.00
Student Support Fee       $100.00       $100.00
Total for the 
Fifth Term - Winter 
      $1,458.00       $2,732.00
TOTAL PROGRAM COST        $7,823.00       $14,694.00

What does a Dental Hygienist do?

Under the supervision of a dentist, a dental hygienist:

  • Screens patients
  • Examines mouth & performs scaling and polishing
  • Applies preventive agents
  • Counsels patients regarding oral health and nutrition.

Types of Dental Hygiene Careers:

(per The American Dental Hygiene Association)

Most people first meet dental hygienists in private dental practices where dental hygienists perform many critical services that detect, prevent, and treat diseases of the mouth. But a career in dental hygiene offers multiple opportunities in multiple settings.

Hygienists can work in a solo, group, or corporate practice. Alternative settings include: long-term care facilities; school systems, dental supply companies, educational institutions, and public health facilities.

  • Perform oral health assessments
  • Provide nutritional counseling and self-care programs to prevent disease
  • Examine head, neck, and oral regions for disease
  • Take and process X-rays and perform other diagnostic tests
  • Provide services that help patients prevent gum diseases and cavities; for example: remove deposits from teeth and apply sealants and fluoride to prevent decay
  • Perform oral cancer and blood pressure screenings
  • Provide oral health instructions
  • Place and remove temporary fillings and periodontal dressings
  • Remove sutures
  • Application of local anesthesia and nitrous oxide analgesia
  • Administration of preventative and chemotherapeutic agents

Note: In some states, with additional education, a dental hygienist may also provide other services such as administering local anesthetics and nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia, placing and carving of filling materials, and additional periodontal procedures.

Administrator/Manager

  • Consult for dental product companies and/or insurance companies
  • Hold administrative positions in education, public health, hospitals, or professional associations
  • Sell dental products and supplies
  • Manage or own dental personnel placement services
  • Evaluate and facilitate processing of dental insurance claims
  • Initiate and evaluate community dental health programs and resources

Educator

  • Teach in dental hygiene and dental school programs
  • Present continuing education seminars
  • Write/edit educational materials
  • Act as educational consultants to dental companies

Researcher

  •  Write grant proposals
  • Develop research methodology
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Conduct clinical research
  • Conduct research surveys
  • Write articles and scientific papers for professional publications

Consumer Advocate

  •  Help consumer groups obtain access to care
  • Develop networking systems to match existing resources with health care needs
  • Advise consumers on insurance policies, commercial products, and political issues affecting oral health

Change Agent

  • Influence business and government agencies to support health care efforts
  • Advocate oral health programs for individuals, families, or communities
  • Act as lobbyist
  • Can be law consultants (malpractice review, expert witness)

Public Health Dental Hygiene

Public health is growing new field. Dental hygienists can pursue graduate public health education at both schools of public health and dental schools. The competency objectives for public health specialists are:

  • Health policy and program management and administration
  • Research methods in dental public health
  • Oral health promotion and disease prevention
  • Oral health services delivery systems

Where do public health hygienists work?

  • Federal Health and Human Services Department. The agency also provides services for federal prisons, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Merchant Marines.
  • The Office of Human Development Services (HDS)-oversees the Head Start Program.
  • With Maternal and Child Health Grants for Oral Health Projects for Children-Implemented through state health agencies.
  • Migrant Centers Program-services for migrant workers and Native American Indian Reservations.
  • Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT)-Implemented through state agencies and funded by Medicaid
  • Veterans Administration Hospitals
  • State Health Departments
  • State Boards of Education
  • University Public Health Programs

Salary Ranges

  • $28.00 - $50.00 hourly depending on the practice.

Benefits – Negotiable

  • Paid continuing education credits
  • Paid scrub allowance
  • Profit sharing and/or production bonuses
  • Medical Benefits – possibly, may be offered in corporate or group practices

License Regulations:

Dental hygienists are licensed by each state to provide dental hygiene care and patient education. Almost all states require that dental hygienists be graduates of Commission-accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. Additionally, almost all states require candidates for licensure to obtain a passing score on the NBDHE (National Board Dental Hygiene Examination) in addition to passing the regional licensure examination. The state and regional examination tests candidates’ clinical dental hygiene and related subjects. Upon receipt of their license, dental hygienists may use “R.D.H.” after their names to signify recognition by the state that they are a Registered Dental Hygienist.

The Commission on Dental Competency Assessments recognizes the ADEX Exam (American Board of Dental Examiners) in 49 states for licensure of a dental hygienist. Delaware, Georgia, and Nebraska require a different examination. Once the candidate passes the ADEX and NBDHE examinations, the candidate can apply for licensure in the state in which they reside.

A licensed dental hygienist must complete continuing education credits every 3 years, see ADHA organization for specifics.

From the State of Michigan Department of Community Health:

“Please be advised that effective immediately, all individuals applying for a health professional license or registration in the State of Michigan are required to undergo a criminal background check and submit fingerprints. The requirement for this procedure is pursuant to Public Act 26 of 2006.”