Dental Hygiene AAS

The Dental Hygiene Program is designed to prepare graduates to become licensed dental hygienists capable of employment in private dental offices and alternative career settings to meet the preventive and therapeutic oral health care needs of the public. Students receive extensive clinical experience in the Central Campus’ dental hygiene facility and participate in enrichment experiences at community-based sites. Articulation agreements have been established with baccalaureate degree completion programs to maximize transfer of credits and simplify the admissions process.

Career Pathway

Mission Statement

The mission of the Dental Hygiene Program is to develop ethical and competent dental hygiene practitioners capable of integrating the varied roles of the dental hygiene profession. The program will strive to provide high quality, affordable and accessible educational opportunities to meet the educational needs of its students, while serving the community.


The Dental Hygiene Program was developed in 1972 to meet the expressed needs of the dental community and public. The philosophy and mission of the College are key factors, which make Montgomery County Community College an ideal educational setting for an Associate of Applied Science Degree Curriculum in Dental Hygiene.

It is the philosophy of the Dental Hygiene program that dental hygiene students be educated to their fullest potential; such education includes integrated curriculum courses in General Education, Basic Sciences, Dental and Dental Hygiene sciences. Clinical proficiency must be interrelated with the didactic course material to maximize the delivery of individualized care to diverse populations.

The Program is based on the philosophy that learning is a cooperative venture including concern for other human beings, mutual respect between faculty and students and a joint activity which is positive and productive. For this philosophy to endure, students and faculty must pledge a willingness to trust each other and participate actively in the learning process. It is our sincere desire to create an attitude on the part of the graduate to express a commitment to lifelong learning and continued professional development as well as service to the community.

Program Goals

The Dental Hygiene Program at the College is designed to provide each student with experiences that facilitate the development of a competent dental hygiene practitioner.

Upon successful completion of the Program, each graduate will be able to:

  • demonstrate basic knowledge of legal responsibilities and ethical considerations and apply those to dental hygiene care.
  • demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to provide dental hygiene care which meet professional standards and licensing examination eligibility.
  • promote optimal oral health and disease prevention as related to general health and wellness for all patients.
  • contribute as an integral member of the healthcare team and assess, plan, implement and evaluate oral health programs for diverse population groups while promoting access to care.
  • value life-long learning and commitment to professional development.

Competencies for the Dental Hygiene Graduate

Competencies for the Dental Hygiene Graduate identifies and organizes the knowledge, skills and attitudes that each graduate is expected to achieve by the time that they graduate for entry into dental hygiene practice. The competencies include the domains recognized by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). The domains include Core Competencies (C), Patient/Client Care (PC), Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HP), Community Involvement (CM) and Professional Growth and Development (PGD).

Core Competencies

C.1.1 Understand and practice ethical behavior consistent with the professional code of ethics in all endeavors.
C.1.2 Adhere to the PA Dental Hygiene Practice Act as well as other legal and regulatory concepts governing the practice of dental hygiene.
C.1.3 Continuously perform self-assessment for professional growth and lifelong learning.
C.1.4 Use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to identify oral health care strategies that promote patient health and wellness.
C.1.5 Provide optimal oral health care for all patients using evidence-based decision making.
C.1.6 Apply quality assurance mechanisms to help ensure continuous commitment to accepted standards of care.
C.1.7 Promote values of the dental hygiene profession through service-based activities and affiliations with professional organizations.

Patient/Client Care

PC.2.1 Systematically collect, analyze and record data on the general, oral and psychological health status of a variety of patients using methods consistent with medicolegal principles.
PC.2.2 Use critical decision making skills to reach conclusions about the patient’s dental hygiene needs based on all available data.
PC.2.3 Collaborate with the patient, and/or other relevant health professionals, to formulate a comprehensive dental hygiene care plan that is patient-centered and based on scientific evidence and professional judgment.
PC.2.4 Provide specialized treatment that includes educational, preventive and therapeutic services designed to achieve and maintain oral health. Partner with thepatient in achieving oral health goals.
PC.2.5 Evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented clinical, preventive and educationalservices and modify as needed.

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

HP.3.1 Use appropriate communication and interpersonal skills and education to promote optimal oral and general health to diverse groups and healthcare members.
HP.3.2 Respect the goals, values, beliefs and preferences of all patients.
HP.3.3 Identify individual and population risk factors and develop strategies that promote oral and general health.
HP.3.4 Utilize methods that ensure the health and safety of the patient and oral health professional in the delivery of care.

Community Involvement

CM.4.1 Assess, plan, implement and evaluate community based oral health programs.
CM.4.2 Provide screening, educational and dental hygiene services in a variety of settings that facilitate access to oral health care.
CM.4.3 Develop a knowledge base of the health care system (local, state, national) and recognize their role within this interdisciplinary concept.

Professional Growth and Development

PGD.5.1 Pursue continuing education courses and/or higher education that demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning.
PGD.5.2 Demonstrate commitment to the dental hygiene profession through active membership and/or service in professional organizations.
PGD.5.3 DIdentify career opportunities within healthcare, education, industry and other roles as they evolve for the dental hygienist.

Essential Functions

In addition to the academic admission requirements for students entering the Dental Hygiene Program, the following Essential Functions are also expected of all students with or without accommodations.

  • Students must have the intellectual, conceptual and critical thinking abilities to assess, analyze, reason and synthesize data in order to draw sound conclusions and make clinical decisions. Students must be able to problem solve as well as obtain, interpret and document information.
  • Students must have effective oral and written communication skills in order to accurately transmit information appropriate to the ability of patients, colleagues, and other healthcare workers. Students must be able to read and write clearly in English.
  • Students must have gross and fine motor skills sufficient to lift and operate equipment and provide safe and effective dental hygiene care.
  • Students must have interpersonal skills such that they are capable of interacting with individuals, families and groups from a variety of social, economic and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Students must have the physical mobility necessary to move from place to place in small spaces as well as full range of motion, manual and finger dexterity.
  • Students must have physical endurance that enables them to stay on task for a prolonged period while sitting, standing or moving.
  • Students must have the visual and perceptual abilities sufficient for observation of patients, oral conditions and assessment. Students must have the ability to discriminate between subtle changes in oral conditions clinically and radiographically. Students must possess a high degree of hand-eye coordination.
  • Students’ auditory ability and other sensory skills must be sufficient to monitor and assess the health needs and diagnose the oral conditions of patients as well as maintain patient safety.
  • Students’ tactile sensitivity must be sufficient for the use of detection, light pressure and control when using small instruments in the oral cavity.
  • Students must demonstrate professional attitudes and behaviors. Students must be able to use reasonable judgment under stressful conditions that impact patient care. Students must be able to work independently as a member of a team to maintain the highest standards in relation to quality care. Students must be able to present a professional appearance, maintain personal health and be emotionally stable.
  • Students must be able to demonstrate general skills, including time management, patient management, ability to multitask, prioritize, comprehend as well as follow instructions and comply with a variety of clinical and professional rules and regulations related to safe clinical practice.

Students must be able to fulfill these essential functions of the job without endangering patients or other healthcare workers. Students with disabilities may be eligible for accommodations. Prior to the start of the Program, students may contact the Director of Services for Disabilities at 215-641-6575 for more information. At the West Campus, contact the Coordinator of Disability Services in the Student Success Center at 610-718-1853.

Approval/Accreditation Status

The program in dental hygiene is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted the accreditation status of “approval without reporting requirements.” The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at 312-440-2718 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611.

Special Admission Guidelines

Students who wish to be considered for admission to the Program must complete a College Application, indicating Dental Hygiene as the major (DH.GS), and present credentials as outlined in the following guidelines.

  1. All applicants must submit a final high school transcript or G.E.D. scores including one year of Chemistry with a laboratory component having earned a grade of "C" or better. Equivalent course taken at a post-secondary institution would be an acceptable substitute. Chemistry with laboratory course must be successfully completed within 10 years prior to enrolling in Dental Hygiene courses.
  2. All applicants must submit official college transcript(s), if applicable.
  3. In addition, one of the following credentials must be submitted.
    1. ACT score composite of 18 or above, or
    2. SAT score of a minimum of 800 total, or
    3. SAT I or SAT Reasoning combined with math and verbal/critical reading score of 920 total, or
    4. College transcript including 14 semester hours consisting of two 4 credit lab science courses and two 3 credit courses which may be from the general education component of the Dental Hygiene curriculum. Grades for the 4 courses must each be a "C" or better and result in a GPA of at least 2.5. The 14 credits will be used for evaluation purposes and are only transferable if successfully completed within the past 10 years. All science courses must be successfully completed within 10 years prior to enrolling in Dental Hygiene courses.
  4. All applicants must take College placement tests in English, Mathematics, and Reading and must place above the developmental level prior to enrolling in Dental Hygiene courses.
  5. All applicants are required to demonstrate a minimum of six hours of observation in a dental office in order to ensure that the applicant is familiar with the work environment in which most dental hygienists are employed. Written verification from the dentist or dental hygienist, on dental office letterhead, is required of each applicant to verify current dental office employment or completion of the six-hour observation in a dental office. Verification must be submitted to the Dental Hygiene Advisor, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by January 31 prior to the fall semester that the student desires to enter the Dental Hygiene Program.
  6. One class is admitted each academic year, fall semester.
  7. Following application to the Dental Hygiene Program, applicants are advised to take non-dental hygiene courses required by the Dental Hygiene Program (see Sequence of Courses) while awaiting Program acceptance. Due to class size limitations, the College does not guarantee continuous enrollment between non-Dental Hygiene and Dental Hygiene courses.

In addition to meeting the Dental Hygiene Program’s Essential Functions and Special Admission Requirements, all applicants are required to submit a completed Petition for Dental Hygiene Admission to the Office of Admissions, Records and Registration. The Petition for Dental Hygiene Admission demonstrates the applicant’s attainment of the Dental Hygiene Program Special Admission Requirements. Admission to the clinical component of the Dental Hygiene Program is based on a point system and ranking procedure. Points are awarded based on place of permanent residence, number of non-DHG courses completed, courses completed at Montgomery County Community College, course grades and date of application. A Total Point Score is derived for each applicant and used in ranking applicants who submit a completed Petition for Dental Hygiene Admission for a given admission cycle. Applicants are strongly urged to meet with the Dental Hygiene Advisor (215-641-6577) prior to submitting the Petition for Dental Hygiene Program Admissions to verify completion of Special Admission Requirements as well as the accuracy of their records.

Academic Preparation

Applicants who do not have the necessary academic preparation for the Dental Hygiene program may take preparatory courses at the College to strengthen their academic background, Advisors are available to assist students in selecting appropriate coursework.

Advanced Standing

Applicants who have successfully completed (grade “C” or better) course(s) in an ADA CODA accredited dental assisting or dental hygiene program or similar may qualify for course transfers or challenge examinations. Upon request, information is available from the Dental Hygiene Program Director.

Program Requirements

Dental hygiene program, students are required to

  1. Attend the mandatory Dental Hygiene Program Orientation.
  2. Demonstrate proof of computer literacy prior to enrolling in Dental Hygiene courses. Successful completion of one of the following will fulfill this requirement: demonstrate computer proficiency obtained through life experiences, demonstrate computer skills obtained at another academic institution including high school or acquired through on the job training, or complete a computer science course such as CIS 100.
  3. Purchase all required dental hygiene textbooks, manuals, instruments, supply kits and loupes.
  4. Purchase the Dental Hygiene Program uniform, uniform jacket, gowns, shoes, and name pin. NOTE: No ear gauges, piercings other than the ear lobe, or visible tattoos are permitted while in uniform.
  5. Purchase student liability insurance annually. A copy of each student’s liability insurance policy must be kept on file by the program.
  6. Assume all responsibility for transportation to and from enrichment/extramural dental site assignments.
  7. Obtain and maintain current American Heart Association's Health Care Provider OR American Red Cross' Professional Rescuer CPR status. A copy of each student's CPR certification must be kept on file by the program.
  8. Have a comprehensive physical examination, which includes documentation of selected vaccinations and a urine drug screen within six months of entering the Program, verify immunity to Hepatitis B and rubella as well as provide record of a current tetanus shot.
  9. Submit application for Child Abuse History Clearance, FBI Clearance and PA Criminal Record Check annually. NOTE: A Child Abuse History will and a Criminal Record and/or FBI Record may exclude the student from participation in the Program.
  10. Submit documentation of an annual influenza vaccination.
  11. Students are responsible for finding their own patients to satisfy their semester patient requirements.

NOTE: Students in the Dental Hygiene Program may be exposed to blood-borne pathogens. Students are provided with a thorough knowledge and understanding of infectious diseases, the mechanism of disease transmission, the OSHA blood-borne standards, and CDC guidelines for infection control.

Progression in Dental Hygiene

Candidates for the A.A.S. Degree in Dental Hygiene may progress within the program and be recommended to the PA State Board of Dentistry for licensure and eligibility to take the Dental Hygiene National Board and NERB examination if the following requirements have been met.

  1. Minimum grade of “C” in all dental hygiene (DHG) and related science (BIO) courses as prerequisite for courses at the next level.
  2. Complete courses in prescribed sequence as identified under Sequence of Courses.

All students must complete the Dental Hygiene Program within four academic years of the date of initial enrollment in the program. Eligibility for re-admission to the Program is based upon space availability as well as meeting minimal specified requirements.

Licensure Considerations

Note: The Dental Law #216 of the State Board of Dentistry, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Section 4.1 states.

The PA State Board of Dentistry has the authority to refuse, revoke or suspend the license of any applicant where the Board shall find that the applicant. *

* Has been found guilty of a crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or having been found guilty of a felony in violation of the laws of the Commonwealth or any other state. For purposes of this clause, the phrase “having been found guilty” shall include a finding or verdict of guilt, an admission of guilt or plea of nolo contender.
* Is unable to practice as a dental hygienist with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of illness, drunkenness, excessive use of controlled substances, chemicals or any type of material, or as a result of any mental or physical condition.


Additional reasons that the PA State Board of Dentistry may refuse a professional dental hygiene license to an applicant can be referenced in section 4.1 of the Dental Law #216 of the State Board of Dentistry, Commonwealth of PA. All questions related to licensure are to be directed to the Commonwealth of PA, State Board of Dentistry, P.O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649.


First Semester

ENG 101 English Composition I 3
BIO 140 Microbiology and Immunology 4
BIO 131 Human Anatomy and Physiology I 4
DHG 100 Theory and Practice of Dental Hygiene I 4
DHG 111 Dental Anatomy 2
DHG 155 Dental Radiology 2

(19 Credit Hours)

Second Semester

DHG 158 Theory and Practice of Dental Hygiene II 5
DHG 159 Histology and Pathology of Oral Tissues 3
DHG 161 Periodontics I 2
ENG 102 English Composition II 3
BIO 132 Human Anatomy and Physiology II 4

(17 Credit Hours)

Summer Session I Semester

DHG 224 Materials in Dentistry 2

(2 Credit Hours)

Third Semester

DHG 261 Periodontics II 2
DHG 226 Dental Pain Control 2
DHG 228 Theory and Practice of Dental Hygiene III 8
PSY 101 Introduction to Psychology 3

(15 Credit Hours)

Fourth Semester

SPC 110 or 111 Speech Communication 3
SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology 3
ESW 206 Basic Nutrition 3
DHG 253 Community Dentistry 2
DHG 258 Theory and Practice of Dental Hygiene IV 6

(17 Credit Hours)


Transportation is the responsibility of the student for all instruction which occurs at community based dental sites.

Dental Bachelors of Science Degree
Options for Dental Bachelors of Science Degree completion via Distance Education at Montgomery County Community College, offered by Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Revised: 8/6/13; 8/1/13; 2/5/13; 1/3/2012; 7/2011; 4/2010; 10/2008; 8/2008; 4/2006