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Oral Hygienist Courses and Classes Overview

Many schools offer oral hygienist courses within programs leading to associate, bachelor's and master's degrees. Read on for detailed information about these types of courses.

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Essential Information

Most oral hygienist courses are offered through degree programs in dental hygiene. These programs are offered at different levels and prepare individuals for several different careers. At the associate and bachelor's degree levels, coursework prepares individuals to become dental hygienists, eligible for state licensure. Master's degree programs in dental hygiene prepare graduates for research, education and leadership positions in the field.

Here is a list of common concepts explored in oral hygienist courses:

  • Local anesthesia
  • Oral cleaning
  • Taking X-rays
  • Non-surgical therapy
  • Medical records assessment
  • Creating molds

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Advanced General Dentistry Programs
  • Dental Assisting
  • Dental Clinical Science
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Dental Laboratory Tech
  • Dental Materials
  • Dental Public Health and Education
  • Dentistry - DDS, DMD
  • Endodontics
  • Oral Biology and Oral Pathology
  • Oral Surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics

List of Common Courses

Fundamentals of Oral Hygiene Course

At the beginning of any dental hygienist program, students take an introductory course on the basic principles of oral hygiene. Background information on the profession is provided, and students learn about dental hygiene law, ethical behavior and professionalism within the field. Essential skills and topics of discussion include patient assessment techniques, vital signs and cancer screenings, periodontal disease transmission and control, instrumentation skills, plaque control and fluoride treatment, patient record tracking and equipment sanitation. This is often taken as a pre-clinical course that consists of lectures and demonstrations. Lab and clinical experience may be included or may come as a separate course later in the program.

Oral Pathology Course

This course may be taken later in the program since it builds on previously learned information. Both oral and general pathology are discussed, and students learn about disease processes, inflammation and repair. Specifically, students focus on oral disease and common signs and symptoms. Treatment options are also reviewed.

Dental Radiology Course

The course on dental radiology and radiography can be taken sometime in the middle of the oral hygienist program. Candidates study basic principles of radiation health and safety practices, as well as become familiar with radiologic equipment and learn to interpret radiographic results. After learning the proper procedures and methods, students' focus shifts to the production, exposure, mounting and storing of radiographs.

Periodontology Course

Periodontics is a specialty in the oral hygiene field that refers to the diagnosis and treatment of gum and other mouth diseases. This course teaches students about gingivitis and periodontitis and how they may affect the teeth if not treated properly. Other topics include the role of tobacco usage and genetics in disease, disease classification and methods of surgical and non-surgical therapy and treatment.

Pharmacology and Pain Management Course

Pain may be a common side effect of many dental procedures, and oral hygienists must be prepared to work with drugs, anesthetics and other methods of pain control. The pharmacology and pain management course teaches students about a variety of commonly used drugs in the dental field, their uses, proper dosage and potential effects on patients. Some of these include local and topical anesthesia and nitrous oxide gas.

Nutrition Course

Nutrition is important in all aspects of life, including dental health. This course focuses on diet and nutrition and how they affect an individual's oral health. Emphasis is placed on biochemistry and nutrition counseling, so that students are prepared to educate patients during their office visits.

Community Health Course

This course provides students with hands-on experience working on a community dental health program. Focus is placed on creating improved public health programs to educate others about healthy habits, disease prevention, nutrition and more. Students learn how to plan, implement and evaluate an oral health curriculum.

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