Courses in Dental Hygiene

A degree from an accredited dental hygiene school and state licensure are required to become a dental hygienist. An associate's degree in dental hygiene and a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree are the two most common degrees you can obtain. Most students pursuing their master's degree will go onto careers in education, research or administration in the dental hygiene field.

Prerequisite Courses for Dental Hygiene

A high school diploma or GED is usually required for admission to a dental hygiene program. Some schools require college entrance test scores as well. High school classes important for admission to a dental hygiene program are biology, chemistry and mathematics and a "C" average is usually required. Graduating with an associate's degree usually takes two or more years at a technical school or community college. Many dental hygiene programs require up to 40 credit hours of prerequisite college courses like chemistry, English, speech, psychology and sociology.

Required Courses in a Dental Hygiene Program

Once you've been accepted into a dental hygiene program you can expect to take a variety of classes. Most programs are semester based and offer summer school courses. Online classes are usually limited to bachelor degrees and masters degree programs.

Courses at a dental hygiene school will include general education classes, basic science classes and dental science classes. General education courses are English, speech, psychology and sociology. Basic Science classes are chemistry, anatomy, physiology, bio chemistry, microbiology, pathology, nutrition and pharmacology. Dental science classes will include dental anatomy, head and neck anatomy, periodontal, histology and oral embryology, oral pathology, pain control and dental materials. Dental hygiene programs should be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

Upon graduation you will need to pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE). This written exam is administered by the American Dental Association Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE). You will also need to successfully complete the Clinical State or Regional Board examination. To achieve licensure in the state you wish to work in you will need to pass their state examination as well. The majority of schools will help you with these and some will actually pay the NBDHE exam costs.