Dental Hygiene
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The Dental Hygiene curriculum is a rigorous, time intensive learning experience which requires the student to simultaneously acquire a broad base of scientific knowledge; develop the technical and manual skills needed to perform detailed clinical procedures; and acquire the personal qualities which define and are expected of a licensed health care professional. The following considerations are provided so that individuals interested in the study of dental hygiene may reasonably assess their career choice and ability to succeed in the program.

Practical Considerations

  • Students must possess effective written and verbal skills in English to perform accurate communications with patients, faculty and other healthcare providers; prepare clear clinical record documentation; follow detailed directions and instruction; participate in group discussions; and give presentations to community groups.
  • Students must have visual, auditory and tactile ability to accurately assess and safely treat patients; detect variations in color, shape, texture and consistency of oral soft tissues and skin; recognize shades of gray in order to interpret radiographs; monitor and record vital signs such as pulse and blood pressure; detect hard deposits on teeth and defects in tooth structure; and identify small instruments and markings.
  • Students must possess good hand/eye co-ordination and manual dexterity; have full use of both hands, wrists and arms; have the strength and stamina to perform fine, detailed and delicate instrumentation in the confined space of the mouth; be able to work for hours in a seated position while performing repetitive hand, arm and upper body movements; and operate foot controlled instruments.
  • Students must demonstrate mature behavior and respect for others; must have integrity and honesty; demonstrate sensitivity, empathy and compassion; maintain confidentiality; adhere to ethical, regulatory and professional standards of behavior; able to accept constructive criticism and modify behavior accordingly; dependably perform responsibilities on time without supervision; work independently on assignments or cooperatively in small groups; and demonstrate cultural sensitivity.
  • Students must be able to think critically and problem solve; synthesize objective and subjective data; set priorities; be flexible and adapt to changes; logically organize patient treatment plans based on the collection of assessment data and the needs/desires of the patient; exercise sound judgment; think and respond appropriately in crisis situations; understand three dimensional and spatial relationships; and have basic computer literacy.

Personal Considerations

  • The Dental Hygiene curriculum includes lectures, laboratories, clinical experiences and community service activities which require a significant time commitment.
  • Depending on courses taken and semester, the schedule in the clinical program includes 21 to 32 hours per week on campus.
  • Out of class assignments, study time, preparation for examinations, working on group projects, library research, and practicing instrumentation skills will require additional hours of work.
  • Clinical practice time requires nine (9) to twelve (12) hours per week and includes one or two evening clinics per week beginning in the second semester.

Health Considerations

  • Dental Hygiene students require good physical and emotional health.
  • Good stress coping skills are essential in a demanding health profession program.
  • The patient care environment has the potential for exposure to blood borne pathogens and infectious diseases. Students receive detailed instruction on infection control protocols specific to the dental field and must comply with all regulatory requirements.
  • Individuals accepted to the program must submit a physician completed SUNY Allied Health Form in order to participate in clinical courses. This is in addition to the proof of immunizations required of all students.
  • Hepatitis B immunization (or a signed declination) is required.
  • An annual influenza vaccination is strongly recommended.

Legal Considerations

  • Applicants for Dental Hygiene licensure in New York must be of good moral character and must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • Pending criminal charges or conviction of a misdemeanor or felony are subject to special review by the New York State Board of Dentistry and may impact a licensure application.
  • The State Board should be contacted directly to discuss legal considerations before enrolling in a program leading to licensure.

Did You Know?

ECC is a member of the State University of New York (SUNY) System, and is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Many of the professional curricula are also accredited by specialized agencies.


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