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Dental Hygiene

Curriculum & Competencies

The University of Michigan School of Dentistry offers a baccalaureate degree program in dental hygiene that is designed to offer students an expanded education, resulting in increased career opportunities after graduation. This degree program provides the education and training needed to become a dental hygienist, allowing you to explore not only the role of clinician but also roles in research, education, public health, administration, and advocacy.

The program consists of one year of prescribed college courses followed by three years of enrollment in the School of Dentistry. During the three years in the School of Dentistry, students will complete the required dental hygiene courses; additional courses will be offered through the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, the Medical School, and the School of Social Work. In addition, students may apply to obtain a minor in business. At the completion of the program, each student will receive a baccalaureate degree.

For more information:

Dental Hygiene Course Descriptions (pdf)

Sophomore Year Fall Term

  • 210. Clinical Dental Hygiene
  • 220. Survey of Dental Hygiene
  • 242. Oral Anatomy
  • 252. Behavioral Science I
  • 272. Dental Practice Emergencies
  • 291. Oral Histology & Embryology
  • 403. Anatomy

Sophomore Year Winter Term

  • 209. Radiography
  • 211. Clinical Dental Hygiene
  • 224. Periodontics
  • 234. Special Patients
  • 243. Head and Neck Anatomy
  • 302. Microbiology
  • 321. Dental Specialties
  • 338. Health Education Methods
  • 350. Microbiology Lab

Junior Year Fall Term

  • 212. Biochemistry
  • 310. Interpretive Radiology I
  • 312. Clinical Dental Hygiene
  • 344. Community Dentistry
  • 382. Nutrition
  • 422. Pain Control
  • 429. Dental Pharmacology

Junior Year Winter Term

  • 313. Clinical Dental Hygiene
  • 324. Periodontics
  • 335. Biomaterials
  • 345. Research Methods
  • 362. Gerontological Dental Hygiene
  • 393. General and Oral Pathology
  • 440. Internal Medicine
  • Electives

Senior Year Fall Term

  • 250. Introductory Statistics
  • 414. Clinical Dental Hygiene
  • 425. Periodontics
  • 446. Scientific Communication
  • Electives

Senior Year Winter Term

  • 415. Clinical Dental Hygiene
  • 430. Practice Management
  • 450. Practicum
  • Electives

The Dental Hygiene curriculum includes opportunities to work with special population groups such as the medically compromised, mentally impaired, and geriatric patients. There are also opportunities for independent study and research activities, as well as interaction with other healthcare professionals. This preparation should increase possible career opportunities in non-traditional settings such as:

  • federal, state, and local health departments
  • hospitals and nursing homes
  • school districts
  • allied dental educational programs
  • research
  • insurance companies
  • corporate health related sales industry
  • PA 161 programs


The dental hygiene (DH) program is a learning process that takes a student from knowledge to competence. The graduating dental hygiene student must demonstrate competencies in basic and advanced skills, educational methods, and the professional values of an individual ready for a career in dental hygiene in a variety of settings. The DH program at the University of Michigan is structured to confer the baccalaureate degree to students at the completion of the dental hygiene curriculum. Graduates will be prepared not only for the traditional DH duties of clinician and health educator but also for roles as consumer advocate, change agent, researcher, and healthcare manager/administrator.

Goals and Competencies

Goal #1: Develop the basis for ethical and professional behavior and service.

Competency 1-1 The graduating student provides dental hygiene care using the highest professional knowledge and ethical principles.

Competency 1-2 The graduating student practices within the context of the appropriate state Dental Practice Act.

Competency 1-3 The graduating student advocates for the well-being of the public and advances the profession of dental hygiene through participation and affiliation with professional and community organizations.

Goal #2: Develop the knowledge and skills necessary to provide comprehensive oral health care for diverse populations in all ages and stages of life.

Competency 2-1 The graduating student demonstrates and applies knowledge of psychosocial, biomedical, dental and dental hygiene sciences.

Competency 2-2 The graduating student identifies individual risk factors and develops educational strategies that promote patient self-care in disease prevention and health promotion.

Competency 2-3 The graduating student uses the dental hygiene process of care to formulate a comprehensive care plan based on assessment data and in collaboration with other health care professionals as appropriate.

Competency 2-4 The graduating student provides each patient with evidence-based preventive and therapeutic dental hygiene care to assist the patient in attaining and maintaining oral health.

Competency 2-5 The graduating student demonstrates effective interpersonal skills to establish rapport with patients and other health care providers in delivering dental hygiene care.

Goal #3: Foster in students an appreciation for the scientific method and life long learning.

Competency 3-1 The graduating student uses critical thinking and self-assessment skills to prepare for and engage in life-long learning.

Competency 3-2 The graduating student uses the scientific method to evaluate scientific literature and uses an evidence-based approach to patient care.

Goal #4: Provide students experiences in community health care settings.

Competency 4-1 The graduating student assesses, plans, implements, and evaluates community-based oral health programs including health promotion and disease prevention activities.

Competency 4-2 The graduating student provides oral health care to a diverse patient population in community-based settings.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) serves the oral health care needs of the public through the development and administration of standards that foster continuous quality improvement of dental and dental related educational programs

For more information about dental hygiene competencies, please see the CODA Requirements.