Florida-based students interested in completing a program in dental hygiene may choose to earn an associate's degree in the field; there is also one school in St. Petersburg that offers a baccalaureate degree. Such programs may usually be completed in about two years and include clinical or practicum requirements in addition to classroom and lab training. Associate's degree programs also include general education courses.
At Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, dental hygiene is part of a two-phase program. Students first complete a ten-month diploma program that trains them as dental assistants before they continue on for 12 months of study to earn an associate's degree in dental hygiene. The dental hygiene portion of the program covers training in radiography, dental materials and dental anatomy. Students learn about anesthesia, oral histology, periodontology and community dental health through classes and labs. Extensive clinical experience is required in this program. General education courses include anatomy, chemistry, microbiology and nutrition. Spaces in the dental hygiene program are limited, and admissions are competitive.
Eastern Florida State College
Located in Cocoa, Eastern Florida College (formerly Brevard Community College) prepares students for licensure through an 88-credit associate's degree program. Dental hygiene students learn through classes and supervised clinical work with real patients, gaining experience and knowledge in patient education, community dental health, deposits removal and the application of preventive agents. General education requirements include courses in chemistry, sociology, communications and psychology. Courses in anatomy, microbiology and nutrition are required as well. Admissions to this program are limited, and students must apply separately after being admitted to the college.
Florida SouthWestern State College
Located in Fort Myers, Florida SouthWestern State College (previously known as Edison State College) offers an associate's degree program in dental hygiene. Class space is limited. Dental hygiene courses require two years of study, including summers. Students complete classes in dental radiology, oral pathology and periodontics, among others, and gain hands-on experience working with patients. Required general education courses include anatomy, chemistry, microbiology and speech.
Florida State College at Jacksonville
Applications must be submitted by June 15 for fall admission to the dental hygiene associate's degree program at this state college in Jacksonville. Prior to beginning the program, students must complete courses in anatomy, chemistry, microbiology and college algebra. The 88-credit dental hygiene associate's degree program includes courses in dental ethics, radiography, head and neck anatomy, periodontics and community dental health. Students get training and hands-on experience in working with patients with many types of conditions.
Hillsborough Community College
In Tampa at Hillsborough Community College, the dental hygiene associate's degree program is offered at the Dale Mabry campus in the city's Drew Park community. The program requires five consecutive semesters of full-time study totaling 88 credit hours. Prerequisite courses include college math or algebra, microbiology, chemistry and anatomy. Courses in public speaking, psychology, sociology and nutrition are general education requirements. Dental hygiene courses include classroom instruction and clinical practice.
Indian River State College
Indian River State College in Fort Pierce offers an Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene degree that requires 88 credits; classwork includes general education courses in anatomy and physiology, chemistry, psychology and sociology. Through dental hygiene coursework and hands-on experience, students gain knowledge in areas such as radiography, periodontics and anesthesia, as well as the skills needed to perform procedures such as stain removal and root planning. Courses in speech, microbiology and nutrition are also required.
Miami Dade College
Taught at the medical campus of the School of Health Sciences in Miami, the two-year Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene at Miami Dade College consists of 88 credits. Spots in the program are limited, and applicants are ranked according to the number of required natural science and general education courses they have taken. Required natural science courses are anatomy and physiology, microbiology and chemistry, while general education requirements include courses in speech, English composition and sociology. The dental hygiene curriculum includes classroom, lab and clinical courses in subjects such as radiography and periodontology.
Palm Beach State College
Earning the Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth calls for 21 months of study, beyond completing required general education and natural science courses. Students get personal attention in small classes and gain hands-on experience through community preventive dental treatment programs in the on-campus clinic. Dental hygiene courses include oral histology, community dentistry, dental ethics and office emergencies.
St. Petersburg College
The 88-credit-hour dental hygiene associate's degree program at this college based in St. Petersburg begins each May. Students must complete a course and a lab in anatomy and physiology as well as at least 12 credits of required general education and support courses before beginning the dental hygiene program. In the dental hygiene program, they learn about pharmacology, preventive dentistry, dental ethics and other topics. Students also get hands-on practice through clinical courses.
Students who complete the Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene program can transfer into the college's Bachelor of Applied Science (BS) program in dental hygiene or health services administration. Those who choose the dental hygiene BS program are required to complete an additional 18 credit hours in general education courses. Coursework in the major can include classes in research, education concepts, leadership and advanced ethics related to dental hygiene. Students also choose electives from courses such as health information systems, mental health issues and healthcare risk management. In addition, a capstone course that involves teaching, observation, work experience or an internship is required.
Located in Orlando, Valencia College's Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene requires two years of study, including summers. Admission to the program is limited. Anatomy and physiology, microbiology and English composition are prerequisite courses. In the dental hygiene program, classroom lectures and labs cover topics such as radiography, clinical procedures and dental materials. Practical experience in dental hygiene skills comes through required clinical courses.
Dental hygienists in Florida are licensed by the Florida Department of Health's Board of Dentistry. They must be at least 18 years old and have completed a dental hygiene program at a school approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association (ADA). Florida requires that dental hygienists pass a written test covering the state's regulations concerning the practice of dental hygiene and a two-part practical examination that tests skills and knowledge of procedures.
Below are short overviews of the programs at Florida's ten largest schools offering dental hygiene degrees, followed by a table with important information about each program. All degree programs listed are approved by CODA.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Dental Hygiene Degree Programs Offered||Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Broward College||Four-year, primarily associate's, public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$2,753 in-state; $8,875 out-of-state*|
|Eastern Florida State College||Four-year, primarily associate's, public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$2,496 in-state; $9,739 out-of-state*|
|Florida SouthWestern State College||Four-year, primarily associate's, public; large suburb||Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene||$3,401 in-state; $12,979 out-of-state*|
|Florida State College at Jacksonville||Four-year, primarily associate's, public; large city||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$2,830 in-state; $9,944 out-of-state*|
|Hillsborough Community College||Two-year, public; large city||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$2,506 in-state; $9,111 out-of-state*|
|Indian River State College||Four-year, primarily associate's, public; large suburb||Associate in Science Degree in Dental Hygiene||$2,764 in-state; $10,201 out-of-state*|
|Miami Dade College||Four-year, primarily associate's, public; large city||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$2,834 in-state; $9,661 out-of-state*|
|Palm Beach State College||Four-year, primarily associate's, public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$2,444 in-state; $8,732 out-of-state*|
|St. Petersburg College||Four-year, primarily associate's, public; small city|| Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene,
Bachelor of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene
|$3,352 in-state; $11,607 out-of-state*|
|Valencia College||Four-year, primarily associate's, public; midsize city||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$2,474 in-state; $9,383 out-of-state*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator.