Dental Hygiene

The Dental Hygiene Program is a comprehensive didactic and clinical program. Changes in the curriculum and admissions requirements for the Dental Hygiene program may occur between the time you apply to the College and the time of your acceptance into the clinical component of the program. You must meet any new requirements for the class in which acceptance if offered.

Students who apply to the College and indicate Dental Hygiene as a major, must meet specific admissions criteria to enter the clinical component of the Dental Hygiene Program. Declaring Dental Hygiene as your major does not indicate automatic acceptance nor matriculation into the clinical component of the Dental Hygiene Program.

  1. Admission to the Dental Hygiene Program is very competitive; completion of the minimum requirements does not guarantee admittance nor matriculation. Interested students must meet with a Dental Hygiene Academic Advisor to discuss course sequencing and to verify all admissions requirements are met. Students who wish to be considered for the clinical component of the Dental Hygiene Program, must present credentials in accordance with the following requirements:
    1. Submit an application to the College indicating Dental Hygiene as a major.
    2. Submit official high school or G.E.D transcript.
    3. Complete high school Chemistry or CHE 121 (or higher) within 5 years with a grade of "C" or better.
    4. Complete BIO 131, BIO 132, and BIO 140 within 5 years with a minimum grade of "B" or better in 1 course, with the 2nd & 3rd courses having minimum grades of "C" or better. Must be completed within 2 attempts. (See Comprehensive Grading Policy)
    5. Complete ENG 101 and ESW 206 with grades of "C" or better.
    6. Complete the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS® Exam), required for admission to the Dental Hygiene Program. The exam assesses your ability to meet the demands of the Dental Hygiene Program and assesses your skills in math, English, reading, language, and science. Submit a TEAS Comprehensive score of 50 (or higher) AND a TEAS Reading Comprehension Score of 75 (or higher) within two years. Must be completed within two attempts. See the TEAS® Information Packet. Please note there is a fee for the TEAS.
  2. Students meeting the specific admissions criteria and seeking admission are required to complete an "Intent to Register". Students may not submit the form until all criteria are completed and grades posted. Admission will be offered to students who meet all criteria and submit the "Intent to Register" form until all the available seats are filled. Admissions is on a first come, first served basis. Accepted students will be notified by email when the Intent to Register period closes.

Program Requirements

Upon acceptance to the Dental Hygiene Program, students are required to:

  1. Open and maintain a Castle Branch account when directed to meet all initial clinical requirements (approx. $100) annually thereafter which includes:
    1. Student liability insurance (approx. $37);
    2. Proof of medical insurance;
    3. Ability to perform the “Essential Functions of Dental Hygiene” required for the curriculum;
  2. Have a physical examination, which includes but is not limited to:
    1. Documentation of selected vaccinations (Hep B, Varicella, MMR, COVID 19, annual influenza);
    2. Urine drug screen;
    3. A test for tuberculosis done 6 months prior to entering the clinical component and then annually thereafter. Students with a positive PPD will be required to have a QuantiFERON Gold test for tuberculosis or a clear chest x-ray;
  3. Maintain current CPR certification until the completion of clinical courses by passing American Heart Association Basic Life Support;
  4. Child Abuse History Clearance, FBI Clearance and PA Criminal Record Check annually (approx. $75). NOTE: A Child Abuse History, PA Criminal Record and/or an FBI Record may exclude you for participation in the clinical component of the Dental Hygiene Program or obtaining licensure as a dental hygienist as regulated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry.
  5. Purchase the Dental Hygiene Program uniform and clinical shoes (approx. $200);
  6. Purchase all Dental Hygiene instrument kits (approx. $1850);
  7. Attend a Mandatory Orientation in early August;
  8. Assume all responsibility for transportation to and from clinical rotation sites;
  9. Students must meet the Benchmarks set by the program for NBDHE and ADEX (CDCA/WREB/CITA) Examinations. 

Students are responsible for finding their own patients to satisfy each course’s patient competency 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.

Due to class size limitations, we do not guarantee continuous enrollment between non-clinical and clinical courses; you may complete the required non-dental hygiene courses and then must wait until space becomes available in the clinical dental hygiene courses.

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Essential Functions

In addition to the academic admission requirements, students entering the dental hygiene program must meet the Essential Functions. These are identified to ensure health and safety for students, patients, and other healthcare workers. Students must possess:

  • Intellectual, conceptual, and critical thinking skills
    • Assess, analyze, reason, and synthesize data
    • Draw sound conclusions and make critical decisions
    • Problem solve and obtain, interpret, and document information
  • Oral and written communication skills
    • Accurately transmit information appropriately
    • Communicate effectively with students, patients, and faculty/staff
    • Proficiently read and write clearly in English
    • Follow directions
  • Gross and fine motor skills
    • Lift and operate equipment
    • Provide safe and effective dental hygiene care
    • Full range of motion, manual dexterity, and finger dexterity
    • Maintain control of sharp instruments within a patient’s mouth
    • Maintain safety for students and patients
  • Interpersonal skills
    • Capable of interaction with others in a professional setting (patients, fellow students, faculty/staff)
    • Capable of interacting with individual, families, and groups from diverse social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds
    • Accept feedback, consctructive criticism, and apply feedback into practice
    • Interact with others in a manner appropriate for a health care professional
  • Physical mobility and endurance
    • Lift and operate equipment
    • Move from place to place in small spaces
    • Full range of motion, manual dexterity, and finger dexterity
    • Stay on task for prolonged periods of time
    • Sit, stand, and move for prolonged periods of time
  • Perceptual abilities and sensory skills
    • Make observations and assessments
    • Distinguish subtle changes in oral conditions
    • Monitor and assess health needs
    • Maintain control of sharp instruments within a patient’s mouth
    • Detect changes in pressure and feelings with small instruments
    • Maintain safety for students, patients, faculty/staff
  • Professional attitudes and behaviors
    • Use reasonable judgment under stressful conditions
    • Work independently and as a member of a healthcare team
    • Maintain professional appearance
    • Maintain personal health (physical, emotional, and mental)
  • General skills
    • Time management and patient management
    • Ability to multitask and prioritize
    • Follow directions
    • Comprehend and follow instructions
    • Comply with clinical and professional regulations/procedures

Students must be able to fulfill these essential functions of the job of a dental hygienist without endangering patients, themselves, other students, or faculty/staff. These functions must be performed without limitations.

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 by calling 215-641-6577 (Blue Bell Campus) or 610-718-1906 (Pottstown Campus).

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 National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and ADEX(CDCA/WREB/CITA) examination if the following requirements have been met.

  • Minimum grade of "75" in all dental hygiene (DHG) and related program courses as prerequisite for courses at the next level.
  • 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 because of any mental or physical condition.

A comprehensive list of reasons that the PA State Board of Dentistry may refuse a professional dental hygiene license can be found in:

  • Section 4.1 of The Dental Law #26 of the State Board of Dentistry, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • Act #25 of the State Board of Dentistry, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Schedule of Criminal Convictions
  • PA Health and Safety Title #35, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Older Adults Protective Services Act

All questions related to licensure are to be directed to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State Board of Dentistry, P.O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649.