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Dental Hygiene

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Dental Hygiene Program - Goals

group photo
A group of dental hygiene students take a moment to pose while studying for their National Boards

The course of study in the Dental Hygiene program provides a broad based education in the social, behavioral, and biological sciences with special emphasis toward teaching, community health and research.

Although legal dental hygiene functions vary from state to state, some of the functions routinely performed by a dental hygienist include, but are 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 (eg, minority groups, geriatric, mentally/physically disabled persons)

With additional training, in some states a hygienist may administer local anesthesia, and place and carve amalgam and non-metallic restorations.