While only one school in North Carolina offers a certificate program in dental hygiene, many others offer degree programs in the field. Profiled below are the nine largest schools offering associate degree programs, as well as the school with a certificate program. Many of these programs prepare students for licensure with the state. Some programs have a limit on the amount of students that can be enrolled. Programs have a variety of different prerequisites as well. Aside from classroom learning, students may get to participate in labs and clinicals.
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
Located in Asheville, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College offers a dental hygiene program that awards an Associate in Applied Science. Accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the ADA, this program prepares students to perform the duties of a dental hygienist, such as cleaning teeth, taking x-rays, recording patients' dental histories and instructing patients in good oral hygiene. Along with 16 credit hours of general education coursework, students take 58 credit hours in the major, which includes courses such as orofacial anatomy, periodontology, dental emergencies and dental pharmacology. Graduates can take state exams needed to gain licensing.
Cape Fear Community College
This Wilmington-based 2-year college offers an Associate in Applied Science program in dental hygiene. Students are expected to graduate with the skills needed to work with current technology, as well as follow a code of ethics, work with a team, meet patients' needs, assess research in the field and help patients sustain good oral health. This 5-semester, CODA-accredited program prepares students to work in lab and clinical settings.
Catawba Valley Community College
This community college in Hickory offers an associate degree program in dental hygiene that prepares students for the exams needed for licensure. Graduates should be ready to take patient histories, give individualized care to patients, work with computerized records, scale teeth and handle medical emergencies. Class topics include dental radiology, general and oral pathology, infection control and community dental health. Students can fulfill the program's arts/humanities elective requirement by choosing from a course list that includes art appreciation, American literature, cultural studies and oral interpretation.
Central Carolina Community College
The dental hygienist program at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford also is accredited by CODA. Students learn to sterilize dental instruments, keep clinical and financial records up-to-date, execute dental hygiene services and optimize patient care. The curriculum encompasses classroom and lab instruction, as well as clinical training. Besides working in general or specialty practices, graduates might be able to find work in state facilities, marketing, consulting and research.
Central Piedmont Community College
Students who wish to enroll in the dental hygiene Associate in Applied Science program at this college in Charlotte must have first aid and CPR certification. They must also have completed a high school laboratory chemistry course and be able to display basic computer skills. A criminal background check may be necessary as well. This program instructs students in how to institute dental healthcare plans for patients, be aware of dental irregularities, perform x-rays, clean teeth and maintain dental records. CODA has accredited this program.
Fayetteville Technical Community College
Located in Fayetteville, this 2-year college offers a 5-semester program in dental hygiene that awards graduates an Associate in Applied Science. Seventy-five credits are required to complete this program. Along with participation in dental hygiene clinics, students take classes in dental nutrition, dental radiography, oral pathology and dental emergencies. General education courses include psychology, microbiology, oral communication and computer basics. Prerequisite coursework includes algebra, biology and chemistry.
Forsyth Technical Community College
Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem admits a maximum of 14 students a year to its dental hygiene program. Students learn to come up with health plans for patients, record and analyze pertinent data and promote good dental health to the community. Graduates are expected to work professionally as part of a team and follow a code of ethics while performing their duties.
Guilford Technical Community College
Based in Jamestown, Guilford Technical Community College prepares students to provide both individual and community dental hygiene care. Students are taught to document medical information, perform and evaluate radiographs, perform certain dental procedures and educate patients. Graduates of this program are awarded an Associate in Applied Science and are eligible to take the state exams needed for licensing. This program follows the rules and regulations set by the North Carolina Dental Practice Act.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Located in Chapel Hill, this university's School of Dentistry offers several programs in dental hygiene, including North Carolina's only certificate program. This ADA-approved program, which takes two years to complete, focuses on core dental hygiene training, and completing the program prepares students for licensure. After being accepted to the university, students need to apply for admission to the dental hygiene program. Some admission requirements include passing background checks, submitting letters of recommendation and completing prerequisite coursework.
Besides Bachelor of Science and master's degree programs in dental hygiene, the School of Dentistry offers a degree completion program. This program is for licensed dental hygienists who want to earn a bachelor's degree.
Wake Technical Community College
The Associate in Applied Science program at Wake Technical Community College, located in Raleigh, takes two years to complete and leads to a career in settings such as dental offices and clinics, hospitals, public health departments and dental schools. If applicants meeting the minimum requirements for admission outnumber the available slots, the program uses a point system to determine acceptance. The program curriculum meets the North Carolina Community College Curriculum Descriptions and Common Course Library. Students complete general education requirements before beginning classes in the major. CODA accredits this program.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental hygienists typically need a minimum of an associate degree in dental hygiene. They also need a state license to practice. In North Carolina, dental hygiene licensure is issued through the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners. An individual can become licensed by completing a dental hygiene program that's been approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) and passing written and clinical examinations.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Dental Hygiene Programs Offered||Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*|
|Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College||2-year, public; small city||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $2,632 (in-state)
|Cape Fear Community College||2-year, public; midsize city||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $2,748 (in-state)
|Catawba Valley Community College||2-year, public; fringe rural||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $2,347 (in-state)
|Central Carolina Community College||2-year, public; fringe rural||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $2,544 (in-state)
|Central Piedmont Community College||2-year, public; large city||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $2,792 (in-district)
|Fayetteville Technical Community College||2-year, public; midsize city||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $2,544 (in-state)
|Forsyth Technical Community College||2-year, public; midsize city||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $2,199 (in-state)
|Guilford Technical Community College||2-year, public; distant town||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $2,319 (in-state)
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||4-year, public; small city||Dental Hygiene Certificate, Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene, Master of Science in Dental Hygiene|| Undergraduate: $8,987 (in-state)
Graduate: $12,212 (in-state)
|Wake Technical Community College||2-year, public; fringe rural||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $2,768 (in-state)
Source: *NCES College Navigator