Associates Degree Programs to Be a Dental Hygienist

Apr 24, 2020

Essential Information

An Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene includes classroom lectures, as well as clinical hands-on experience cleaning patients' teeth and gums in teaching clinics. Students learn how to examine a patient's mouth; they also learn how to explain and provide advice about existing conditions to patients. To meet the prerequisites for enrollment, students need a high school diploma or GED, and they also need to submit SAT scores. Students may need to incur additional fees for special equipment, like dental tools and uniforms.

Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene

Although a dental hygiene program has traditional classes and coursework, students spend much of their time working in labs. Acquiring mastery with dental hygienist tools is necessary to perform well. Some sample course topics include:

  • Oral hygiene
  • Periodontology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Nutrition and health
  • Pathology
  • Behavioral and social science

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the number of jobs for dental hygienists should grow at a much faster than average rate between 2018 and 2028. This increase would mean a 19% hike in employment opportunities for dental hygienists. A greater demand for dental care is expected because of population increases and greater focus on the importance of good dental hygiene. In 2019, the BLS reported that dental hygienists made a median annual salary of $76,220, with some of the top earners in the field making $103,340.

Continuing Education Information

A bachelor's degree and a master's degree are available in dental hygiene for students interested in continuing their education. Dental hygienists must possess a state license in order to work. This license can be obtained by passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (a written test) as well as a clinical exam. Most states also require dental hygienists to pass an examination covering dental hygiene practice law.

An A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene includes all the classroom and clinical training needed to qualify for professional licensure in the field. Graduates can enter a career field that's expected to grow rapidly from 2018-2028, and they can pursue bachelor's or master's degrees to further advance their careers.

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