Professionals who work in the dental support services field include dental assistants and dental hygienists. Dental assistants help prepare patients for exams, while dental hygienists actually remove different elements, such as plaque, from patients' teeth. Those who are interested in this as a career path should look for programs at their local vocational schools, community colleges and universities.
The top dental education schools offer a range of opportunities for interested students. The four schools profiled below were ranked by U.S. News & World Report as some of the best schools in the country for 2017.
University of Louisville in Louisville, KY
|School Highlight: In 2017, the U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Louisville #90 on the list of the top public schools in the country.|
The School of Dentistry at the University of Louisville offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Dental Hygiene. In the first two years of the program, students take general education and foundational dental courses. After that, they can apply for admission to the upper-division courses, which provide real-world clinical training in dental support services, such as oral examinations, stain and plaque removal, fluoride application, taking x-rays, tooth bleaching and oral hygiene instruction. It is also possible to transfer into the upper division after earning a two-year associate's degree.
University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA
|School Highlight: In 2017, U.S. World & News ranked the University of Pittsburgh at #68 on the list of best national universities.|
The University of Pittsburgh offers both associate's and bachelor's degrees in dental hygiene. In the associate's degree program, students take basic biomedical courses and get hands-on dental hygiene training through rotations in the school dental clinic. It is important to note that, before applying to the program, interested students must spend at least 15 hours shadowing a dental hygienist. The bachelor's degree is available as a degree-completion program for students who have already earned a dental hygiene certificate or associate's degree. Once enrolled, students in this program can choose between three concentrations: education, research and health care management/administration.
University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA
|School Highlight: This college's school of dentistry has dental clinics so that students can gain practical experience in the field.|
For undergraduates, the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at USC offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in dental hygiene. In addition to completing basic dental hygienist training and general education coursework, students receive instruction in community health, disease prevention, nutritional counseling and smoking cessation. USC also offers a part-time, online Master of Science (MS) in Dental Hygiene program, which lasts for five-semesters and allows working hygienists to pursue advanced studies in a particular topic of interest, such as geriatric dentistry or education. The program culminates in a research-based capstone project and oral defense. For 2017, USC was ranked #23 among national universities by U.S. News & World Report.
Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ
|School Highlight: The NAU Department of Dental Hygiene was awarded Provost Award for Excellence in Global Learning in 2014 for preparing students for international service.|
Undergraduates at NAU can pursue a Bachelor of Science Dental Hygiene. There is a full four-year option, as well as a degree completion program for students who already hold associate's degrees. In addition, the Department of Dental Hygiene sponsors continuing education opportunities for dental support service providers looking to enhance their knowledge in the field and accumulate the credits they need to renew licensure or certification. For 2017, NAU was ranked a second-tier national university by U.S. News & World Report.
Most Popular Schools for Dental Support Service Programs
Here are some more schools that offer strong dental support service programs:
- CUNY New York College of Technology in Brooklyn, NY, has the oldest and largest dental program in the New York City area offering an A.A.S. degree in dental hygiene.
- The program at Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, OR, teaches students how to work with some of the latest dental technology while they earn valuable clinical experience.
- The University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, CT, uses a combination of undergraduate and graduate courses to provide a broad education in basic and dental scientific theory.
- St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, FL, as been training students for over 50 years and offers an A.A.S, A.A., B.S. and B.A.S in dental hygiene.
- ECPI University in Virginia Beach, VA, focuses on helping students build the foundation of skills and knowledge needed to become successful dental hygienists.
- Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA, has a B.S and M.S. degree program with a number of specializations and career tracks that can prepare students for jobs in dental support services.
- Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, offers a B.S. and M.S. program for aspiring dental health care professionals.
- New York University in New York, NY, trains students using evidence-based curriculum and dental treatments while they work on research and provide affordable treatment for the community.
- Indiana University - Purdue University - Fort Wayne offers three different dental programs, including a program for dental assisting, dental hygiene and dental laboratory technology. The school is located in Fort Wayne, IN.
Students who want to train for dental support service careers can find a wide range of excellent programs, some of which are available at schools that are nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report. The majority of programs are at the undergraduate level.