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Online Dental Hygiene Certificates

Get details about the requirements to complete a dental hygiene certificate and online program availability. Learn about topics covered in these courses, and find out about career outlook and licensure.

What Are The Requirements for Dental Hygiene Certificate Programs?

Although dental hygiene certificate programs are offered in some schools, they're typically not offered through distance learning, due to the hands-on clinical experience required. If you're interested in an online program, many schools offer dental hygiene associate's or bachelor's degree completion programs where you can earn the certificate on campus and complete the remaining courses online. Admission into dental hygiene programs is often very competitive and limited. You must have your prerequisite courses completed prior to enrollment; prerequisite areas can include high school or college courses in biology and chemistry.

Bachelor's degree programs may also require that you complete an accredited dental hygiene program, successfully pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and hold a current dental hygienist license. Upon completion of a certificate or associate's degree program, you can pursue licensure and begin working as a dental hygienist. If you wish to pursue an online bachelor's degree completion program, you can do so while working as a dental hygienist.

Degree OptionsCertificate, associate's and bachelor's programs available
Online AvailabilitySome didactic courses can be completed online; clinical education must be completed on-campus
Common TopicsPeriodontics, dental emergencies, oral disease, dental hygiene, radiology
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 20% growth (for all dental hygienists)*
Median Salary (2018) $74,820 (for all dental hygienists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does The Online Program Entail?

Online dental hygiene programs allow you to earn your degree while continuing to work and live in your community. All you need is a computer with Internet access and an e-mail address. Interaction with instructors takes place via message boards, chat rooms and e-mail. Your courses are delivered through online lectures, recorded media and course content delivery systems. The online programs have the same academic requirements as the on-campus programs. The didactic parts of the programs can be completed online, but you'll need to complete your clinical education at a dental facility.

What Will I Learn?

As part of a dental hygiene degree program, your course of study will include general education courses, dental hygiene core courses and clinical education. Certificate programs may or may not include general education courses. Degree programs may require you to complete a capstone project. Topics of study may include:

  • Materials used in the dental practice
  • Radiology
  • Periodontics
  • Health issues in dental practice
  • Legal and ethical issues in healthcare
  • Dental emergencies
  • Oral disease prevention in the community
  • Dental hygiene practice management

What Is My Career Outlook As a Dental Hygienist?

As a dental hygienist, you'll examine patients' teeth, remove deposits from teeth, educate patients on dental care and provide dental services using a variety of dental tools. You'll find career opportunities working in dental offices or dental clinics. You must obtain licensure in the state you plan to work as a dental hygienist. Upon successfully passing a written and clinical examination from the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations - a branch of the American Dental Association - and graduating from an accredited dental hygiene school, you'll have your license.

A license is required in most states. Although competition is stiff for dental hygienist jobs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that employment opportunities should increase 20% from 2016-2026 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, there is a demand for preventative dental services given by hygienists due to research connecting general health to better dental health.