Most schools offering an online bachelor's degree in dental hygiene require that students already hold a valid dental hygiene license and an associate degree or its equivalent from an accredited dental hygiene program. These programs are usually degree-completion programs and may be completed in about two years of study. Some programs allow for degree specialization allowing students to concentrate on public health, working with special populations or patient education. Programs are fully available online and may require video conferencing.
Information and Requirements
Students enrolled in an online program typically access course materials and interact with their classmates or instructors through a school's virtual classroom environment. Online discussion boards, e-mail, class chat rooms and collaboration tools for group work are utilized to foster interaction.
Because students in these online programs are expected to already have licensure and an associate's degree in dental hygiene, on-campus requirements are usually not required. However, some courses require the use of live sessions using video conferencing technology; in these cases, students would need to be available to participate at an arranged time.
The dental hygiene curriculum at the bachelor's level generally has the same requirements for both on-campus and online programs. The courses focus primarily on expanding the knowledge of working dental hygienists and giving them the skills needed to work in a variety of settings.
Dental Public Health
In this class, community needs assessments are performed. Students develop plans to deliver dental hygiene services and learn to use statistical analysis to evaluate outcomes. Students will examine and evaluate federal, state and local public health systems.
Teaching Dental Hygiene
The development and practice of dental hygiene teaching methods is the focus of this class. Dental hygienists learn how to work effectively with individuals and groups, plus special populations, including children. Coursework includes the development of lesson plans and teaching objectives, as well as how to offer feedback to both patients and students.
This course covers the study of oral health in a specific population. Students master the principles of epidemiological study and related methodologies. The collection and use of biostatistics are also part of this class.
Practices in Dental Hygiene
In this class, students study current dental hygiene practices and trends in both public and private dental settings. Lessons emphasize preventive oral care, assessment of dental healthcare needs and delivery of dental services.
Online dental hygiene programs may qualify graduates for clinical work or positions in education and advocacy with public health organizations, private dental practices, public health clinics or insurance companies. Students may also sit for professional certification exams.
Bachelor's degree programs in dental hygiene are aimed at students holding an associate's degree and a dental hygiene license. As such, they typically have no on-campus requirements; they serve to expand the skills of working dental hygienists.