Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Aspiring dental hygienists can learn about their options for online and on-campus associate degrees. Take a look at what kinds of courses are offered, the prerequisites for entering these programs and the employment outlook for dental hygienists. Schools offering Dental Hygiene degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Earn an Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene Online?

The majority of dental hygiene programs are campus-based, as associate degrees in this field require clinical hours and time spent working with actual patients in order to graduate. If you are a working adult, many programs can accommodate nontraditional schedules by offering night and weekend classes. There are also some degree programs that allow students to complete prerequisites or certain other courses online.

Online Availability Fully online programs aren't available due to clinical requirements and hands-on training
Common Topics of Study Radiology, anatomy, preventative care, equipment usage
Admission Requirements High school diploma/equivalent, ACT or SAT scores, recommendation letters, personal statement
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 20% (for dental hygenists)
Median Salary (2018)* $74,820 (for dental hygenists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn in an Associate Degree Program?

An associate degree program in dental hygiene takes 1-2 years to complete, and courses combine didactic and clinical training. In this program, you'll learn how to provide preventative services to patients at a dentist's office. Common procedures include removing tartar and plaque, polishing teeth and treating stains. Other skills may include using models of the mouth to educate patients in common dental problems and at-home preventative techniques. You'll also learn how to brief a dentist on a patient's condition before he or she sees the patient.

You'll be required to work with different types of dental equipment, such as ultrasonic devices and X-ray machines. Training in X-ray machines sometimes includes additional training in film development. Some states may also offer training in basic anesthesiology, allowing dental hygienists to administer anesthesia to patients undergoing oral surgery.

Here are some courses that might appear in your curriculum:

  • Anatomy
  • Dental tissues
  • Dental radiology
  • Oral pathology
  • Periodontics
  • Dental pharmacology
  • Clinical dentistry
  • Public health

What Are the Educational Prerequisites?

A high school diploma or its equivalent is the minimum requirement for admission. Some programs prefer applicants with degrees in a related field, such as biology or medicine. You may also have to submit ACT or SAT scores, letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

What is the Employment Outlook for Dental Hygienists?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected employment for dental hygienists to grow at a faster-than-average rate of 20% between 2016 and 2026. This increase is largely due to an increased demand for preventative dental care. As of May 2018, the median annual salary for dental hygienists was $74,820.

To work as a dental hygienist in any state, you must obtain a license in addition to a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program. Licensure requires successful completion of written and clinical tests, which are administered by the American Dental Association's (ADA) Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations and your state's testing agency, respectively.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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