Home page

Dental Hygiene


Dental hygiene programs teach people to clean and protect patients' teeth.

Dental hygiene programs preapre people to instruct patients about flossing and caring for their teeth. Students learn oral anatomy, hygiene theory, and cleaning techniques. They also study ways of identifying oral diseases and injuries.

Dental hygiene programs include topics such as:


During the final year of your dental hygiene program, you complete an internship. During this period, you work with patients under the supervision of a dental hygienist.


Many community colleges and technical schools offer certificate and associate degree programs in dental hygiene. Both degree programs usually take two years of full-time study to complete.

Many colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study.

Several universities offer graduate degrees in dental hygiene. A master’s degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree.

See schools that offer this program.

Related Educational Programs

Related Careers

Careers Directly Related to this Program of Study

Other Careers Related to this Program of Study

Program Admission

Proprietary schools, colleges, and universities all offer this program. If you want to study at a proprietary school, you can prepare for this program of study by completing your high school diploma or getting a GED. If you want to study at a college or university, you can prepare for this program by taking the following courses: four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Many undergraduate programs require applicants to have taken one to two years of college first. Specific prerequisite courses vary among programs, but typically include some combination of the following:

In addition, if you are applying to a degree completion program for a bachelor's degree, you usually need to be licensed to practice dental hygiene.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You must be a graduate of an accredited, entry-level dental hygiene program. You also need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

Undergraduate programs that lead to an associate or bachelor's degree typically include courses in the following subjects:

Graduate Program Courses

Graduate programs that lead to a master's degree typically include courses in the following subjects:

Students rarely do graduate work just in the general field of dental hygiene. Instead, they usually specialize in one area of the field. Possible areas include research, education, management, or public health. You're likely to first take a set of "core" courses similar to the list above. You would then take other courses that focus on your specialty.

Also, most graduate programs require the completion of some combination of the following:

Things to Know

Many schools require you to buy dental instruments, uniforms, and radiography (x-ray) materials in addition to textbooks.

You need a license from the state in order to practice dental hygiene.

Almost all states require you to pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to a state licensure exam.


East Side Area

Walla Walla University

King-Snohomish Area

Bellevue College

Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Pima Medical Institute-Seattle

Seattle Central College

Shoreline Community College

University of Washington - Seattle

Kitsap Area

Olympic College

Spokane Area

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University (Spokane Campus)

Spokane Community College

Spokane Falls Community College

Tacoma Area

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom

Pierce College Puyallup

Tri-Cities Area

Columbia Basin College

Vancouver Area

Clark College

West Side Area

Bellingham Technical College

Centralia College

Grays Harbor College

Lower Columbia College

Yakima Area

Yakima Valley College

Yakima Valley College (Grandview)