Dental Hygiene

Dental Hygiene Fact Sheet

Registered Dental Hygienists are important members of the licensed dental care team who use their knowledge and clinical skills to provide direct patient care. Strong interpersonal skills are necessary to motivate and educate patients on methods to prevent oral disease and to maintain oral health. If you enjoy helping people, working with your hands as well as your mind, and are interested in improving oral health, Dental Hygiene may be for you!

See Also: Dental Hygiene Degree Worksheet

Job Description/Duties

  • Generally work with dentists to create comprehensive care plan and work collaboratively to meet oral needs of patients
  • Provide dental health and nutritional education for individuals and groups
  • Perform oral cancer screening
  • Examine periodontal (gum and bone) structure around and supporting teeth
  • Expose and interpret radiographs
  • Scaling and root planing
  • Administer local anesthetic/ nitrous oxide sedation
  • Administer topical fluoride treatments
  • Place sealants

Employment Opportunities

  • Full time and part time
  • Private practice
  • Public health/ consumer advocate
  • Teaching/administration
  • Research
  • Legislative advocate
  • Corporate representative
  • General and specialty practices
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Public health clinics
  • Schools

Salary and Benefits

  • Varies depending upon responsibilities and geographic location
  • Benefit packages may be provided through employer and/or as a member of the American Dental Hygienists' Association


  • Very portable profession
  • Prestige: highly skilled discipline
  • Variety: work with diverse individuals/groups, children, elderly, medically compromised, dental compromised
  • Creativity: educating/motivating diverse cultures
  • Flexibility: full/part time available in variety of settings & mix and match to fit your lifestyle and goals
  • Security: employment opportunities readily available year round

Career Development

  • Life-long learning is an essential component for knowledge and required for re-licensure.
  • Local and national opportunities for professional development
  • Bachelor and Master online degree completion programs available
  • Articulation agreements with some colleges or universities accept completed general education and DH courses

Technical Standards

The prospective dental hygiene student must have the following capabilities:

  • Possess good hand/eye coordination and manual strength and dexterity to perform instrumentation skills necessary for direct patient care.
  • Hold a current CPR card and be able to perform emergency procedures required in the field.
  • Be free from conditions which put other humans at risk.
  • Possess ability to read, write, record and report.
  • Be able to understand and react quickly to verbal instructions and patient needs.
  • Be able to effectively communicate with patients to explain procedures, provide instructions and educate.

Program Prerequisites

Note: Dental Hygiene applicants are limited to repeating program prerequisite courses (sciences) one time only, as of fall 2012. This means students will take the course for the first time, and may repeat the same course once. Proof will be required with the DH program application in the form of transcripts or DARS.

Must be completed prior to submitting an application:

  • Biology 223
  • Biology 224
  • Biology 251
  • Chemistry 220
  • COM 113

Twelve (12) credits of science are also included as the science requirements for the A.S. degree.

Required Science Classes for Dental Hygiene Degree

Note: BIO 223, BIO 224, BIO 251, and CHEM 220 must be completed prior to applying and current within the last five years.

General Education Courses

  • Biology 190: Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology (3 credits)
    Prerequisite: ENG 101 or 113; MATH 120, 126 or higher; or qualifying Accuplacer, SAT or ACT scores for these courses. An introductory cell and molecular biology course covering basics of inorganic chemistry, water, pH, biological macromolecules, cell structure, membrane physiology, cell signaling, metabolism, cell division, heredity, gene expression, and gene regulation. Both BIOL 190 and BIOL 190L are prerequisites for BIOL 223, and BIOL 251.
  • Biology 190L: Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory (1 credit)
    Prerequisite: ENG 101 or 113; MATH 120, 126 or higher; or qualifying Accuplacer, SAT or ACT scores for these courses. An introductory laboratory course focusing on specific inquiry and investigation of cell and molecular biology principles, use of laboratory equipment, and metric system measurements and conversions. Both BIOL 190 and BIOL 190L are prerequisites for BIOL 223, and BIOL 251
  • Biology 251: General Microbiology (4 credits)
    Prerequisite: BIOL 190 and 190L.
    A general course emphasizing distribution, morphology and physiology of microorganisms in addition to skills in aseptic procedures, isolation and identification. This course also includes sophomore level material covering immunology, virology, epidemiology and DNA technology. Recommended for all allied health students.
  • Chemistry 121: General Chemistry I (4 credits)
    Prerequisite: ENG 98R and MATH 120 or equivalent or qualifying Accuplacer, ACT/SAT scores.
    Fundamental principles of chemistry and the properties and uses of the common nonmetallic elements.

Program Core Science Requirements

  • Biology 223: Human Anatomy and Physiology I (4 credits)
    Prerequisite: BIOL 190 & BIOL 190L.
    An intensive laboratory course dealing with the morphology and physiology of body systems. Basic histology is covered along with the following body systems: integumentary, skeletal, muscular and nervous. Principles of chemistry are used throughout the semester. Required for most allied health programs. Three hours of lecture and three hours of lab per week. This course transfers for four credits to UNR, UNLV, and NSC.
  • Biology 224: Human Anatomy and Physiology II (4 credits)
    Prerequisite: BIOL 223 with a letter grade of 'C' or better is required.
    A continuation of BIOL 223 with increased emphasis on body chemistry. Body systems covered include circulatory, respiratory, digestive, reproductive, urinary, endocrine, lymphatic and immune. Required for most allied health programs. Three hours of lecture and three hours lab per week. May not be taken prior to or concurrently with BIOL 223. This course transfers for four credits to UNR, UNLV, and NSC.
  • Chemistry 220: Introductory Organic Chemistry (4 credits)
    Prerequisite: CHEM 121. CHEM 122 recommended.
    A laboratory course which acquaints students with some of the fundamental principles of carbon chemistry and biological chemistry.

General Education/AS Degree/Program Core Requirements

See Also: TMCC Course Catalog

General Education (GE) Requirements

All GE courses strongly recommended to be completed prior to submitting an application. Total GE requirements = 24 credits.

  • English (6 credits); required: ENG 101 & ENG 102
  • Fine Arts* (3 credits); required: THTR 210 (meets Diversity requirement)
  • Humanities (3 credits); required: PHIL 135
  • Mathematics (3 credits); required: MATH 126 (or higher math)
  • Science (6 credits); required: BIOL 190/190L, CHEM 121
  • Social Science (3 credits); required: PSY 101

Additional AS Degree Requirements

Total additional degree requirements = 9 credits.

  • Diversity* (3 credits)
  • Science (6 credits). Science courses fulfilling the six credits include: BIOL 190/190L (2 credits from GE); BIOL 251: General Microbiology (4 credits)
  • U.S. & NV Constitutions* (3 credits); recommended: PSC 101

Program Core Requirements

Total core requirements = 15 credits

  • BIOL 223: Human Anatomy and Physiology I (4 credits)
  • BIOL 224: Human Anatomy and Physiology II (4 credits)
  • CHEM 220: Introductory Organic Chemistry (4 credits)
  • COM 113: Fundamentals of Speech (3 credits)

* See the current TMCC Course Catalog for choices

Program Costs

Approximately $13,000-$15,000 (subject to change). Fees associated with national and state exams cannot be determined and are over and above the program costs.

Examination and Licensure

All states require that dental hygienists be licensed. In addition to successfully graduating from an accredited Dental Hygiene program and passing the written Dental Hygiene National Board Examination, graduates must pass the Nevada State Clinical Board or Western Regional Board Examination (WREB) in order to practice dental hygiene in Nevada.

The Nevada Dental Practice Act (NRS631.290) requires that candidates for licensure be of good moral character and be citizens of the U.S. or lawfully entitled to remain and work in the U.S. Prospective students are advised that if they have a felony or misdemeanor convictions or have a history of substance abuse or infectious disease that this my preclude subsequent licensure as a dental hygienist in Nevada (NAC 631.050)

Program Requirements

DH 102 Oral Biology 4 Credits
DH 103 Head and Neck Anatomy 2 Credits
DH 104 Dental Hygiene I 3 Credits
DH 105 Intro to Clinical Practice 2 Credits
DH 107 Legal and Ethical Implications in Dental Hygiene 1 Credits
DH 110 Concepts of Oral Health 2 Credits
DH 112 Oral Radiology 3 Credits
DH 113 General and Oral Pathology 3 Credits
DH 115 Clinical Practice I 3 Credits
DH 118 Advanced Clinical Topics in Dental Hygiene 2 Credits
DH 120 Fundamentals of Nutrition in Dentistry 3 Credits
DH 202 Pharmacology 2 Credits
DH 203 Special Patients 2 Credits
DH 205 Clinical Practice II 5 Credits
DH 207 Periodontics I 2 Credits
DH 208 Community Dental Health I 2 Credits
DH 209 Pain and Anxiety Control 3 Credits
DH 211 Dental Materials and Techniques for Dental Hygienists 2 Credits
DH 214 Periodontics II 1 Credits
DH 215 Clinical Practice III 5 Credits
DH 218 Community Dental Health II 2 Credits
Total Emphasis Requirements 54 Credits
Total Degree Requirements 102 Credits

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Calendar of Events

SGA Finance Committee Meeting

Friday, October 24
RDMT 122, Dandini Campus

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Friday, October 24
Idlewild Park, 1900 Idlewild Dr., Reno