Online Dental Hygienist Schools

If you've ever had an unpleasant experience at the dentist, you may know the importance of dental hygienists. Being treated by someone skilled and pleasant with steady hands can ensure that patients return to the dentist for regular care. Studies have revealed that since taking good care of your teeth may improve your overall health, getting dental care is more important than ever. Dental hygienists may play a crucial role in the fight to keep your smile bright and healthy.

With dental hygienist training, good manual dexterity, and the ability to work closely with others, you may find well-paying, meaningful employment working directly with people to improve their lives.

Dental Hygienist School: What to Expect

As a dental hygienist, you may perform a variety of tasks alone or at the dentist's side. You may:

  • Examine patients' mouths for oral health
  • Clean patients' teeth
  • Teach oral self-care such as flossing, brushing, quitting smoking, and a healthy diet
  • Provide preventative care such as fluoride treatments and sealants

Traditional and online dental hygienist courses may teach you all this and more, including how to administer anesthetics, fill cavities, remove stitches, and take X-rays. The tools you may be using include hand tools, rotary instruments, ultrasonic devices, and X-ray machines. Learning safety protocol for you and your patients will be a high priority.

Dental hygienist degree programs may require a high school diploma and college entrance exam scores. You may also benefit from taking mathematics, biology, and chemistry courses in high school, as well as completing one year of college, before applying.

For work in a private dental office, you may only need a two-year associate's degree or certificate. The exact tasks you'll perform vary according to the laws of each state. If you're looking to run your own business, or work in public health, research, administration, or education, you may need a bachelor's or master's degree, which take four to six years to pursue Many dental hygiene schools require internships where you can practice your new skills in a professional periodontal setting.

Career Options for Dental Hygienist School Graduates

Once you've graduated from an accredited dental hygienist school, you must pass a national written exam and a practical state exam to get licensed to practice as an RDH (registered dental hygienist). 96 percent of graduates with associate's degrees find work in private clinics where they spend their days cleaning and examining teeth and teaching patients to care for their own teeth. Other employers may include hospitals, nursing homes, schools, correctional facilities, and corporate settings. Half of RDHs work part-time in one or more offices.

Alternately, you may start with an advanced degree or upgrade to one after your associate's. With a bachelor's or master's degree, you might work in research on topics such as the effects of oral health on pregnancy or the efficacy of health education campaigns. You'd coordinate people and tasks to make studies run smoothly, screen patients to see if they meet clinical trial criteria, and compile data.

As an educator, you might use your skills at a university, high school, public health clinic, or corporate setting, teaching students in the classroom, the clinic, or on the computer, if you work for one of the online degree programs for dental hygienists.

A public health job could be working for the state assessing the oral health of grade school children and implementing programs to improve it. Or you could use your advanced degree and some years of experience to open your own periodontal business. There are also many opportunities to work as an RDH abroad.

Salary Outlook for Dental Hygienist School Degree Holders

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the mean annual wage for dental hygienists is $67,860 (based on full-time employment), with the top five highest paying states being Alaska, Washington, California, Nevada, and Oregon. Those with bachelor's and master's degrees can expect higher pay. With a projected growth rate of 36 percent through 2018, dental hygienists have excellent job prospects overall.

Dental hygienists may be paid on an hourly, daily, or salary basis -- or on commission. Most of the 50 percent of hygienists who work full-time receive benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation, retirement plans, and sick leave.

A flexible schedule, great pay, excellent job outlook, the opportunity for continued education and advancement, and the skills to improve people's immediate comfort and overall health are some of the reasons why becoming a dental hygienist might just put a smile on your face.

Dental Hygienist Programs

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            Bachelor Degree in Dental Hygiene
            • Began in 1909 as a single classroom in Los Angeles.
            • Offers no-cost dental clinic in Anaheim, where students gain experience by offering a selection of free dental services.
            • Involved in philanthropy, through partnerships with several organizations, such as the California Institute for Nursing and Healthcare (CINHC) and Shriner’s Hospital.
            • Accredited by The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission.
            • Has 4 California campuses and 2 other campuses in Florida and Texas.
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            • Financial Aid
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            Dental Assisting
            Unitek College , Sacramento
            • Offers programs in nursing, medical assisting, pharmacy technology, dental assisting, and more.
            • Six Campuses across Northern CA: Fremont, San Jose, Sacramento, S. San Francisco, Hayward, and Concord.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, with programmatic approvals from the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians and the Board of Registered Nursing.
            • Approved by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with an A+ rating since 2010.
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            • Flexible Scheduling
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            Dental Assistant
            • Offers career placement assistance services to recent graduates.
            • Approved to accept international students who wish to study in the United States.
            • Programs include Medical Office Specialist, Medical Assistant, Dental Lab Technician, and Healthcare Administration.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
            • Main campus is located in Van Nuys, California, north of Los Angeles.
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            Dental Assistant (10-Month Diploma Program)
            UEI College , El Monte
            • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
            • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
            • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
            • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
            • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
            • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
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            Dental Assistant
            Brightwood College , Bakersfield

            About Brightwood College

            Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

            About Education Corporation of America

            Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

            Dental Assistant
            North-West College , West Covina
            • Features the Success Education Program, with numerous scholarship opportunities to students who qualify.
            • Offers a paralegal program and several healthcare programs including pharmacy technology, medical assisting, massage therapy, and diagnostic medical sonography.
            • Provides an active Placement Assistance Program for all qualified gradutes.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • 7 southern California campuses available in West Covina, Pomona, Pasadena, Glendale, Riverside, Santa Ana, and Long Beach.
            • Part of the Success Education Colleges (SEC) group.
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            Dental Assisting
            • Offers medical and cosmetic programs, including dental assisting, massage therapy, cosmetology, esthetics, and more.
            • Features a public salon and spa where students may get real-world experience.
            • Offers scholarship opportunities for students wo qualify.
            • Accredited by the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 separate Vacaville campuses, one is for medical careers and the other is the beauty academy.
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            Certificate - Dental Assistant
            • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
            • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
            • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
            • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
            • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
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