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What Will I Learn in a Bachelor’s Degree Program in Dental Hygiene?

A career as a dental hygienist can be both lucrative and fulfilling. If you pursue this career path, you’ll be an integral member of the dental team, providing preventative care to patients and examining them for signs of dental decay or gum disease.

A bachelor’s degree program in dental hygiene is a four-year program that provides a thorough background in both clinical and theoretical aspects of oral health. Some bachelor’s degree programs require candidates to be graduates of an associate’s degree program in dental hygiene. This type of program is known as a completion degree.

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What Subjects Will I Study in a Bachelor’s Degree Program in Dental Hygiene?

A bachelor’s degree program usually includes some liberal arts courses along with courses related to health science and dental care. You’ll take many science-related courses and clinical courses related to the care of teeth and gums. Examples of courses you may take include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Medical ethics
  • Head and neck anatomy
  • Local anesthesia
  • Gum disease

Along with learning background information and theory in the classroom, you’ll also learn skills through hands-on clinical training. You’ll gain experience learning to perform basic oral examinations, using x-ray equipment and other dental equipment, and you’ll learn the most up-to-date information on preventative care. You’ll also learn to administer fluoride treatments and apply sealant to teeth.

Should I Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Hygiene?

If you’re interested in becoming a dental hygienist, a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene provides the knowledge and skills you need for this career. This type of degree contains more in-depth knowledge than an associate’s degree, which can be completed in two to three years. Pursuing bachelor’s degree for your dental hygiene training has advantages such as:

  • Gaining a broader understanding of the field of dental hygiene
  • Additional time to practice skills
  • Gaining a stronger background for providing patient education

Dental hygiene is a highly skilled profession, and obtaining a bachelor’s degree gives you a well-rounded and thorough training. You’ll be prepared to work closely with the dentist, performing oral procedures and assisting with dental surgery. More advanced education may lead to more time on the job spent working independently.

What Can I Do as a Dental Hygienist with a Bachelor’s Degree?

After obtaining your bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, you’ll be eligible to take the exam to become a licensed dental hygienist. All states require dental hygienists to pass a licensing exam to demonstrate competence in the field. Contact your state’s Board of Dental Examiners to find out the requirements in your state.

As a licensed dental hygienist with a bachelor’s degree, you’ll be able to find employment in private dental practices including the offices of specialists such as periodontists. A bachelor’s degree opens additional job opportunities that may not be available to those with an associate’s degree, such as management, working for community health organizations and providing education such as preventative oral health education programs.

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How Much Does a Dental Hygienist with a Bachelor’s Degree Make?

Working as a dental hygienist with a bachelor’s degree can be a very well-paid career. The median annual wage of dental hygienists in May 2019 was $76,220 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t always mean earning a higher salary than those with an associate’s degree, but it can lead to advanced roles which pay even more.

There are a growing number of employment opportunities for licensed dental hygienists with a bachelor’s degree.  Employment in this field is projected to grow at a rate of 11 percent across the United States between 2018 and 2028, which is must faster than average job growth for all occupations.

What are Some Schools That Offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Hygiene?

If you’re interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, look for a program that’s accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.  Some bachelor’s degree programs include:

  • Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. Located in Los Angeles, CA, this school provides a highly comprehensive dental hygiene education internationally renowned for excellence. The program emphasizes health promotion and disease prevention while teaching the needed skills for students to be able to provide preventative care to patients.
  • University of Pittsburgh. At this university, students have to opportunity to earn an associate’s degree and go on to enroll in the bachelor’s completion degree. Advanced course offerings in the completion degree program prepare hygienists to work in a continually changing oral health care environment.
  • Youngstown State University. This Youngstown, OH, university offers a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene, which requires nine semesters of study. Dental hygiene courses begin in the spring of the second year. Students obtain a broad academic background along with comprehensive dental experience.

As the population ages, the demand for dental services increases. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene means your skills will always be in high demand. You’ll be trusted and respected by patients and by those you work with.