Oral Hygienist Courses

An oral, or dental, hygienist performs many tasks, including teaching patients about dental hygiene, taking X-rays, and removing plaque from teeth. Find out about the courses offered in dental hygiene degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Schools offering Dental Hygiene degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Types of Courses Can I Take in Dental Hygiene?

General oral hygiene courses cover anatomy, radiology, local anesthesia and pain management, nutrition, and communication. They also cover how to perform clinical exams, expose and process x-rays, remove plaque from teeth, and counsel patients on proper hygiene.

Intro to Dental Hygiene Concepts

This course typically provides an overview of the concepts and foundations of dental hygiene. Emphasis might be placed on professionalism with patients and staff, how to assess patient dental history, best practices for dental disease prevention, treatment protocols and infection control. Many of these courses may have a lab component and may cover the skills necessary to perform the duties of a dental hygienist.


The use of dental radiology is covered in this course. Students may learn the history of X-rays and the functions of dental X-ray equipment, as well as radiation safety procedures. Further topics covered may be intra- and extra-oral radiography, film processing, and interpretation of radiographic images. Students might expect observation and hands-on practice with equipment and film.

Oral Pathology

Students in this course usually cover the oral diseases and pathologies encountered by a dental hygienist. Some of the topics covered might include clinical signs and assessments, treatment protocols for oral pathological conditions, and the role of the dental hygienist in treatment and clinical recognition.

Intro to Periodontology

Periodontal disease is the focus of this course. Students may learn the etiology of periodontal diseases as well as surgical and non-surgical treatments. The role a dental hygienist plays in periodontal hygiene may also be discussed.

Dental Materials

This course typically presents an overview of the biomaterials used in dentistry. Students might learn the importance of dental care to maintain the integrity of restorative materials for dental health. Also covered may be the science behind material choices in treatment and dental surgery.

What Degrees Are Available?

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in dental hygiene are available. Some curricula also contain clinical rotations that will put you in contact with patients and allow you to practice skills learned in a classroom.

Master's degree programs in dental hygiene are also offered, but they generally require that you be a licensed dental hygienist before attending. These programs often focus on preparing you to work as a dental hygiene educator.

A few schools offer doctoral programs in fields related to oral hygiene. These programs focus on research in the field and on understanding the development, growth, structure and function of oral tissues, as well as oral disease pathology.

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:

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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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