Aspiring dental hygienists can earn an associate degree in the field. Typically to be considered for admission, applicants need to have completed a certain number of prerequisite courses in such areas as psychology, anatomy and physiology, microbiology and biochemistry. Clinical experiences are integrated into all programs discussed in this article. Additionally, all schools profiled in this article are accredited by the American Dental Association. Students should note that Concorde Career College in Aurora is a for-profit school; the rest of the schools are public colleges.
Colorado Northwestern Community College
This college in Rangely, CO, offers a highly selective associate degree program in dental hygiene. Students who want to improve their chances of being accepted into the program may want to consider enrolling in the college's pre-dental hygiene program, which guides students through completing the required dental hygiene prerequisites and provides an opportunity for students to participate in an internship program.
Coursework for students in the dental hygiene degree program includes dental anatomy and histology, periodontics, preventive dentistry, community dental health and dental practice management. Students also participate in dental clinical practice sessions.
Community College of Denver
Located in Denver, this community college also has an associate degree program in dental hygiene. Prior to starting dental hygiene courses, students must complete 28 units worth of prerequisite courses that include topics in human anatomy and physiology, microbiology, sociology, dental hygiene terminology, psychology and biochemistry.
Students must also complete 67 units of dental hygiene core classes which include dental and medical emergencies, dental anatomy and histology, head and neck anatomy, local anesthesia, periodontics and dental materials. Additional courses include topics in nutrition, clinical skills, community dental health, dental radiology and applied pharmacology. Clinical practice courses are also required. Students also have the choice of taking a national board review class, which helps students prepare for licensing exams.
Concorde Career College - Aurora
This for-profit college offers an associate degree program in dental hygiene at its campus in Aurora. Students can complete the degree program in roughly 17 months. They learn how to obtain each patient's dental history, perform dental examinations, take X-rays and perform additional dental office duties. The curriculum includes topics like pharmacology, dental anatomy, dental materials and dental radiology. Students also take a national board review course and participate in clinical experiences.
Pueblo Community College
The Pueblo campus of this college has 2-year degree program for prospective dental hygienists. Prior to enrollment in the dental hygiene program, students must complete general education courses and prerequisites. Prerequisite classes include psychology, chemistry, human anatomy and physiology, biochemistry and English composition.
Required course topics for the dental hygiene degree program cover dental anatomy and histology, oral pathology, pharmacology, dental materials, clinical skills, anesthesia and sedation. Students must also complete clinical rotations in dental hygiene.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that dental hygienists must be licensed within their own state of employment. The Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations' Office of Licensing oversees licensing of dental hygienists in this state. To become licensed, professionals must complete an accredited program in dental hygiene and pass national/regional licensing exams.
Additionally, dental hygienists who are interested in administering local anesthesia have to complete a separate licensing requirement. Getting this specialized licensed requires completing 12 hours of didactic coursework and 12 hours of clinical experiences in block injections and infiltration. All schools discussed in this article qualify graduates for the state licensure exam.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Dental Hygiene Degrees Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Colorado Northwestern Community College||2-year, public; rural remote||Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene||$3,554 in-state; $5,805 out-of-state*|
|Community College of Denver||2-year, public; large city||Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene||$3,509 in-state; $13,179 out-of-state*|
|Concorde Career College - Aurora||2-year, private for-profit; large city||Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene||$53,200 for total program tuition**|
|Pueblo Community College||2-year, public; midsize city||Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene||$6,761 in-state; $14,561 out-of-state*|
Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **Concorde Career College - Aurora.