In New Jersey, most dental hygiene programs are offered at the associate degree or bachelor's degree level. In addition to lectures, students in these programs participate in labs and clinical experiences. Applicants may need to have completed foundational science courses to be considered for admission, and some programs may be offered on a limited-enrollment basis. A few of the schools discussed here may not offer a dental hygiene program, but instead offer programs that prepare students for admission to the dental hygiene program at Rutgers University.
Bergen Community College
In Paramus, students can study dental hygiene at Bergen Community College and earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS). This two-year program includes four courses in oral hygiene, as well as classes in microbiology, dental radiology and peridontology. Laboratory and clinical work, including sessions at the college's dental clinic, gives students hands-on experience performing the tasks of a dental hygienist. During the third semester, students complete a course in community oral health. In this course, students explore the importance of dental hygienists in delivering dental care to a community. They also take a look at issues involving community health. Local, global and national health care delivery is also reviewed.
After taking the dental health nutrition course, students have the necessary knowledge to identify patients with nutritional deficiencies; they learn to help those patients develop nutrition plans and change their behaviors related to food. Upon completion of the dental hygiene degree program, students can transfer to a four-year university or enter the workforce.
Brookdale Community College
At Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, students can pursue a 60-credit hour Associate of Arts in Social Sciences with a health sciences concentration. This program includes all prerequisites necessary for admission to the Rutgers University dental hygiene bachelor's program, and it's offered in cooperation with that university.
Camden County College
Blackwood's Camden County College offers an Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene. Course topics in the program include periodontics, dental anatomy, pharmacology, anesthesiology and community dentistry. Students participate in three dental hygiene clinics. Admission to the program requires the completion of high school biology and chemistry courses, among other admission requirements.
Essex County College
Located in Newark, Essex County College offers an Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene jointly with Rutgers University. Graduates of this program can go into practice after gaining licensure, or they can move on to a bachelor's degree program in health sciences. Besides fulfilling general education requirements, students take core courses for the major in topics such as dental head and neck anatomy, pain and anxiety control, dental radiology and dental health education. Graduates of this program come away with the ability to perform duties such as clean teeth, perform fluoride treatments, educate patients and administer local anesthesia.
Middlesex County College
Edison-based Middlesex County College awards an Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene to students who complete the two-year program. The program requires the completion of courses such as anesthesia and pain control, general and oral pathology, dental health education and preventative oral health services. Courses in nutrition and oral health, dental radiology and periodontology are also required.
Raritan Valley Community College
In Branchburg, Raritan Valley Community College offers a certificate in dental assisting that prepares students for admission to Rutgers University's dental hygiene bachelor's program. Students take general education courses in anatomy and physiology, English composition, and introductory psychology. Dental courses cover topics like dental radiology, clinical assisting and dental materials, among others.
Rowan College at Burlington County
In Pemberton, students at Burlington County College can take courses leading to an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene. This two-year program includes instruction within a clinic. Course topics include dental anatomy of the head and neck, anesthesia and oral pathology. Students wanting to enroll in this program must show a sound background in biological sciences.
With locations in Newark and Scotch Plains, Rutgers offers a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. The program includes coursework in pain control, radiology, oral histology and more. Multiple clinical experiences are also part of the curriculum. Prior to admission to the dental portion of the program, students are required to complete roughly 40 general education credits. These credits can be earned at numerous affiliated colleges in the state, including Brookdale Community College, Essex County College and Raritan Valley Community College.
To work as a dental hygienist in New Jersey, an individual must first obtain a license from the New Jersey State Board of Dentistry, which requires completion of an appropriate education program and passage of the New Jersey jurisprudence examination.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Dental Hygiene Degree and Certificate Programs Offered||Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Bergen Community College||Two-year, public; large suburb||Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene||$4,278 in-district, $7,686 in-state, $8,046 out-of-state*|
|Brookdale Community College||Two-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Arts in Social Sciences with a health science concentration||$3,653 in-district, $6,599 in-state, $7,199 out-of-state*|
|Camden County College||Two-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene||$4,320 in-district, $4,440 in-state and out-of-state*|
|Essex County College||Two-year, public; large city||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene||$4,213 in-district, $7,358 in-state and out-of-state*|
|Middlesex County College||Two-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene||$3,372 in-district, $6,744 in-state and out-of-state*|
|Raritan Valley Community College||Two-year, public; fringe rural||Certificate in Dental Assisting||$4,048 in-district, $4,768 in-state and out-of-state*|
|Rowan College at Burlington County||Two-year, public; large suburb||Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene||$4,065 in-district, $4,545 in-state, $6,495 out-of-state*|
|Rutgers University||Four-year, public; large city||Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene||$14,131 in-state, $29,521 out-of-state*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator.