What Are the Core Courses of a Dental Hygienist Degree Program?

Because a dental hygienist works in a number of different environments, degree programs include both direct patient care and coursework on the administrative side of dental care. In addition to the technique classes, the student can add electives such as dental health education, pharmacology and community dental health. Schools offering Dental Hygiene degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of the Courses of a Dental Hygienist Degree Program

When reviewing dental hygienist degree programs, the student should make certain that the school is accredited with the American Dental Association's Commission on Accreditation. The curriculum should include both classroom courses and a practicum or clinical component. Listed below are a few of the common courses.

Important Facts About the Dental Hygienist Degree Program

Programs Expanded Functions for the Dental Auxiliary program
Degree Levels Undergraduate and graduate
Prerequisites Immunization records
Possible Careers Periodontics, implant dentistry, pediatric dentistry, orthodontics
Median Salary (2018) $74,820
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 20%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Prerequisite Courses in Dental Hygiene

Most dental hygienist degree programs require preliminary study in biology, math, chemistry and anatomy. Once admitted to a program, the core courses will be similar in subject matter regardless of the school or institution selected. Typically, an associate's degree coursework focuses on the theory and practice of dental hygiene, while an advanced degree's curriculum adds upper division classes in specialized areas of interest and general studies coursework.

Anatomy and Physiology

The dental hygienist student studies anatomy of the head, neck and jaw, and learns terminology and functions of the bones and muscles. Typical classes include:

  • Oral anatomy
  • Histology
  • Head and neck anatomy
  • Periodontics

Dental Hygienists' Tools and Equipment

Since the dental hygienist is often be responsible for obtaining x-rays of the teeth, classes in oral radiography may be included in the core curriculum. Some dental practices include processes that require proficiency with other tools and equipment. These include whitening, preparation of molds and monitoring of braces.

Administrative Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Some smaller practices require a dental hygienist to perform various office management tasks. As a result, many programs include coursework on record keeping and staff supervision. Business communications and business management classes may also be helpful in the performance of such duties.

Patient Care and Education on Dental Hygiene

A dental hygienist is often responsible for direct interaction with the patient. These are some of the classes that help aspiring dental hygienists to more effectively work with patients:

  • Pharmacology
  • Pain management
  • Community dental health

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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