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Dental Hygiene

Bachelor's Degree

Public demand for dental services has created excellent opportunities for those interested in a career in dental hygiene. The dental hygienist is a member of the oral health team and is responsible for a wide range of services related to the provision of oral healthcare and patient education.

The entry-level Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program provides the education and training needed to become a dental hygienist. It allows you to explore not only the professional responsibilities of a clinician but also roles in research, education, public health, administration, and advocacy.

The Dental Hygiene undergraduate degree program includes classroom and laboratory work as well as hands-on experience at many specialty clinics, offering students a wide variety of patient experiences. Intraprofessional (dental students and dental hygiene students) joint courses and shared clinical care of patients further broadens the dental hygiene student learning experiences. Dental hygiene students are taught by both dental and dental hygiene faculty who are committed to preparing students to be the next “leaders and best” in the profession.

Research also plays a role within the program and involves several opportunities for students to explore topics in the areas of social and basic science.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Dental Hygiene Program is to promote optimal oral health through education, research, and service. To achieve that mission, the Dental Hygiene program will:

  • Educate dental hygienists in the current theory and practice of the profession so they may provide the best standard of care to all segments of the population
  • Conduct research related to oral health and dental hygiene
  • Serve the university and the profession by disseminating knowledge and establishing linkages to promote oral health and dental hygiene
  • Foster diversity in education, patient care, research, and health policy

Program Philosophy

The dental hygiene program at the University of Michigan is structured to confer the baccalaureate degree at completion. The curriculum offers a broad-based education in the social, behavioral, and biological sciences, preparing students for the practice of contemporary dental hygiene and for leadership roles in oral healthcare of the future. Graduates will be ready not only for the traditional dental hygiene responsibilities of clinician and health educator, but also for the roles of consumer advocate, change agent, researcher, and healthcare manager/administrator.

Dental Hygiene Program - Goals

The course of study in the dental hygiene program provides a broad-based education in the social, behavioral, and biological sciences with a special emphasis on teaching, community health, and research. DH students will become familiar with the functions routinely performed by dental hygienists, including, but not limited to:

  • calculus and plaque removal (hard and soft deposits) from above and below the gumline
  • examination of the teeth and oral structure, including a soft-tissue exam
  • exposing, processing, and interpreting dental radiographs
  • plaque control instruction and developing personal oral hygiene programs for home care
  • placing temporary fillings, applying periodontal dressings, removing sutures, polishing and recontouring amalgam restorations
  • dietary and tobacco use counseling
  • applying caries-preventive agents, such as fluorides and pit and fissure sealants
  • educating the individual patient and the general public about the importance of good oral hygiene habits
  • oral cancer and blood pressure screening
  • designing community dental health programs
  • oral health care research, data collection, and tabulation
  • working with special population groups (e.g., minority groups, geriatric patients, mentally/physically disabled persons)
  • delivery of local anesthesia and nitrous oxide oxygen sedation