Dental Hygienist

What is dental hygiene?

Dental hygiene is concerned with oral health, including prevention and treatment of gum diseases and tooth decay.

What should I look for in a dental hygiene school?

The best dental hygienist schools should either possess regional or national accreditation from an accrediting body that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. 

In addition, you can often recognize top dental hygienist schools based on:

  • The school’s name and status
  • The school’s history
  • Teacher credentials
  • Alumni network

In choosing the best dental hygienist school for you, you should consider the following factors: 

  • Admission requirements
  • Residency requirements
  • Class and teaching style
  • Testing methods used
  • Course content and presentation
  • Program length
  • Class size
  • Student-teacher interaction
  • Technology use
  • Tuition and financial aid
  • Transferability of credits
  • Availability of a dedicated administration team and resources


What levels of dental hygiene programs are available?

The following levels of dental hygienist degree programs are available:

  • Online Dental Hygienist Certificate Programs
  • Online Associates in Dental Hygienist
  • Online Bachelor in Dental Hygienist
  • Online Masters in Dental Hygienist
  • Online PhD in Dental Hygienist


How long does it take to get a dental hygiene degree?

The amount of time it takes a student to earn an accredited dental hygienist degree depends on the level of degree being pursued and the pace of the student. 

Typically, the breakdown is as follows:

  • Dental Hygienist Associates Degree – 2 years
  • Dental Hygienist Bachelor Degree – 4 years
  • Dental Hygienist Masters – 6 years
  • Dental Hygienist PhD – 6 to 8 years


What are some examples of dental hygiene courses?

The best dental hygiene degrees cover coursework in subjects pertaining to general human anatomy, oral issues, and radiology. They combine total body function with oral function and the use of X-rays and other diagnostic methods. Some common courses a student would take include the following:

  • Dental Hygiene
    Students are introduced to the fundamental concepts and techniques of oral treatment. Students are also introduced to the use and care of dental equipment.
  • Preventive Dentistry
    This course introduces students to the concepts and techniques currently used in preventive oral hygiene practice.
  • Orofacial Anatomy
    Postnatal development of the structure of teeth is explored, with emphasis on oral and facial anatomy and function.
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
    The human body is studied, including the skeletal, muscular, endocrine, integumentary, and reproductive systems.
  • Dental Radiology
    This course introduces students to the physics of radiation and radiation biology. Students explore intra and radiographs, and discuss exposing and processing x-rays.


What areas of dental hygiene specialization are available?

Dental hygiene specializations depend upon the workplace an individual wishes to work in and can include the following:

  • Dental Hygiene
  • Child Dental Hygiene
  • Dental Health Education
  • Periodontics
  • Oral Pathology


What can I do with a dental hygiene degree?

Dental hygienists who graduate from an accredited dental hygiene school look forward to job flexibility and stability. Some dental hygienist jobs include the following:

  • Dental Hygienist
  • Dental Health Educator
  • Dental Radiologist
  • Registered Dental Hygienist
  • Dental Health Practitioner


What is a dental hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a health practitioner who specializes in oral treatment and prevention measures. Individuals who graduate with a top dental hygiene degree act as licensed professionals in the dental field under the supervision of a dentist.

What does a dental hygienist do?

Dental hygienists who graduate with accredited dental hygiene degrees, and who obtain licensure, are called upon to work with dental patients to provide health services. Dental hygienists examine a patient’s teeth and gums, take and develop dental X-rays, clean and make impressions of teeth, and instruct patients in oral health care and maintenance.

How much does a dental hygienist earn?

A dental hygienist who has graduated from an accredited program can expect good pay and higher than average job growth. Dental hygienists can make an average hourly salary of about $38.00 per hour, with increases with higher degrees and years in the field. The pay for a Registered Dental Hygienist is nearly 50% more than the average LVN salary. Job growth is higher than average at 28.5% through the year 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for dental hygienists.

How do I become a dental hygienist?

Information on how to become a dental hygienist after completing an accredited dental hygiene degree program includes studying and sitting for licensure. The best dental hygiene degree program prepares students to enter into the field through hands on courses and preparation for licensure exams. Dental hygienists can expect employment with an associate’s degree, and can look for increases in salary and job responsibilities with higher degrees.