The registered dental hygienist is a licensed health care professional dedicated to the maintenance of optimal oral health and the prevention of oral disease. These professional goals are accomplished through community oral health education, through delivery of preventive dental health services to individuals and through highly skilled patient treatment. Professional responsibilities vary by state or province but generally include the following clinical skills: perform thorough patient assessment, including review of health history; recording vital signs; head and neck inspection; oral cancer screening and dental charting; develop individualized oral self-care strategies; educate patients on the value of good oral health and its relationship to systemic health; perform various types of dental radiographic films; administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide sedation; remove deposits and stains from the teeth; apply chemotherapeutic agents to treat or prevent dental diseases; and manage special needs and medically compromised patients.
Dental hygienists are licensed by the state or province in which they plan to practice. Generally, candidates for licensure must be graduates of an accredited dental hygiene program, must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination taken near graduation and must pass a state or regional clinical examination. New York State uses the American Dental Hygiene Licensing Examination administered by the Northeast Regional Board of Dental Examiners. This examination is utilized by 17 states and the District of Columbia. Many other states now accept this examination for licensure as well. Applicants for licensure in New York must be United States citizens or permanent residents, must be of good moral character and will be subject to special review if criminal charges are pending or there has been a previous felony or misdemeanor conviction.
Dental hygienists are valuable members of the dental health care team who work with dentists to provide oral health services to patients. They enjoy helping people, welcome challenging opportunities, perform detailed work and have an interest in life sciences. As a respected member of the dental team, dental hygienists can have a positive influence on the health of others, play a key role in the prevention of oral diseases which may impact systemic health, and enjoy a flexible, rewarding career.
The Dental Hygiene Program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312) 440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 or at www.ada.org/100.aspx.
Degree: Associate in Applied Science
Curriculum Code: 0545
Campus Location: North
Health Sciences Division