Dental Hygiene Brochure


(Per The American Dental Hygiene Association)

If you like helping people, enjoy working with your hands as well as your mind, and are interested in helping to prevent disease while assisting patients to maintain their oral health, a career as a dental hygienist may be for you.

Dental hygienists are important members of the dental health care team who work with dentists in the delivery of dental care to patients. Hygienists use their knowledge and clinical skills to provide dental hygiene care for patients. They use their interpersonal skills to motivate and instruct patients on methods to prevent oral disease and to maintain oral health.

Dental hygiene offers women and men of all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds exceptional career opportunities. A minimum of two years of college education that combines classroom and clinical coursework is necessary to become a dental hygienist. This education prepares graduates to provide care to patients in dental offices, clinics and educational or health care institutions. Studying in an accredited program provides education that is based on the latest procedures and techniques. Dental hygienists receive their education through academic programs at community colleges, technical colleges, dental schools or universities. The majority of community college programs take at least two years to complete, with graduates receiving associate degrees. Receipt of this degree allows a hygienist to take
licensure examinations (national and regional), become licensed and to work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs may offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which generally require at least two years of further schooling. These additional degrees may be required to embark on a career in teaching and/or research, as well as for clinical practice in school or public health
programs. Dental hygiene program admission requirements vary, depending upon the specific school. High school-level courses such as health, biology, psychology, chemistry, mathematics and speech will be beneficial in a dental hygiene career. Most programs show a preference for individuals who have completed at least one year of college. Some baccalaureate degree programs require that applicants complete two years of college prior to enrollment in the dental hygiene program. Counselors, advisors and prospective students should contact the particular dental hygiene program of interest for specific program requirements.

Students enrolled in the dental hygiene program are at a slight risk for exposure to blood and body fluids. Therefore, the potential does exist for transmission of blood borne and other infectious diseases during patient care activities. The risk of blood borne or infectious disease transmission from dental patients to members of the dental team is extremely low. Nevertheless, there is some small potential for this to occur. The American with Disabilities Act forbids the discrimination against patients with any of diseases. Therefore, students are required to treat all patients assigned regardless of the disease state of the patient. The Oakland Community College

Dental Hygiene Program complies with all institutional, local, state and federal regulations on blood borne pathogens and infectious diseases, ionizing radiation and hazardous material. The Oakland Community College Dental Hygiene program is accredited by the American Dental Association. Issues pertaining to compliance with the standards of the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation Standards can be addressed to the:

Commission on Dental Accreditation
211 E. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
(800) 232-6108

A copy of the ADA Commission standards may be downloaded