A dental hygienist provides preventative and educational oral treatment services, such as teeth and gum exams, X-rays and cancer screenings, typically in dental practices. Careers in dental hygiene require a significant amount of hands-on training, and programs in this field cannot be found completely online. However, fully online associate's degree program are available in medical assisting, which can prepare students to handle administrative duties in a dentist's clinic
Distance-learning dental hygiene degree programs, like the ones at East Tennessee State University and the University of Maryland - Baltimore, use online and traditional courses, labs, research and practicums to train students in oral health, oral disease patterns and periodontal therapies.
Students should expect some on-site requirements as they move through a degree program in this field, such as lab sessions and clinical work. The coursework itself can typically be completed online at the bachelor's level, while the master's degree programs typically involve a blended format.
Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene
An online Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene is usually designed for students who already hold an accredited associate degree in dental hygiene or have at least completed required prerequisite coursework. Schools might also require proof of licensure in the field for admission. Some on-campus or in-person requirements could include orientation sessions, labs and clinical components, though coursework is usually available entirely online.
The online curriculum trains students in the following areas:
- Anesthesia and pain control
- Periodontal and geriatric therapies
- Community and rural health
- Soft tissue management
- Oral radiology and health research
- Disease prevention
Master of Science
Hybrid master's degree programs in dental hygiene are commonly designed for learners seeking research or administration roles in the field, or as a foundation degree for a doctoral program. Students must have a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene or another related field to enroll in a master's program. These graduate programs combine online and traditional core courses, as well as field work. Online students can sometimes select specialization tracks in such areas as education, public health or administrative management.
The program includes coursework across dental hygiene and number of disciplines, including the following:
- Public health
- Social work
Students looking to pursue careers in dental hygiene can find online degree programs at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. Due to the nature of the field, these programs typically require significant on-campus presence for lab sessions and clinical work.