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 Admissions Adviser 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 one year of Chemistry within 5 years with a grade of "C" or better.
    4. Complete BIO 131, BIO 132, and BIO 140 within 5 years with minimum grades of "B" or better in 2 courses, with the 3rd course having a minimum grade of "C" or better.
    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. You may take the Dental Hygiene admission exam three times per year, please see the TEAS® Information Packet. Submit a TEAS Comprehensive score of 50 (or higher) AND a TEAS Reading Comprehension Score of 75 (or higher). Please note there is a fee for the TEAS.
  2. To be familiar with the work environment in which most dental hygienists are employed, all applicants are strongly encouraged, but not mandated to shadow a registered dental hygienist.
  3. 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.

Program Requirements

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

  1. Open and maintain aCastleBranch 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;
    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 BLS for Healthcare Provider;
  4. Submit documentation of an annual influenza vaccination;
  5. Child Abuse History Clearance, FBI Clearance and PA Criminal Record Check annually (approx. $75). NOTE: A Child Abuse History, 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. Students with a positive criminal background are required to meet with the Director of Dental Hygiene prior to starting the clinical component of the program;
  6. Purchase the Dental Hygiene Program uniform, uniform lab coat, clinical shoes, and name pin (approx. $200);
  7. Purchase all Dental Hygiene instrument kits (approx. $1850);
  8. Attend a Mandatory Orientation in early August;
  9. Maintain active membership with the student chapter of the professional organization (approx. $65);
  10. Assume all responsibility for transportation to and from enrichment sites;
  11. Be able to meet the attendance requirements for class, clinical and laboratory sessions;
  12. Students must meet the Benchmarks set by the program for NBDHE and ADEX/CDCA Examination preparation. It is strongly encouraged that student complete a Board Examination Review (approx. $495).

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.

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 have to wait until space becomes available in the clinical dental hygiene courses.

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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.
  • Be able to problem solve as well as obtain, interpret and document information.
  • 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.
  • Have gross and fine motor skills sufficient to lift and operate equipment and provide safe and effective dental hygiene care.
  • Have interpersonal skills such that they are capable of interacting with individuals, families and groups from a variety of social, economic and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Possess the physical mobility necessary to move from place to place in small spaces as well as full range of motion, manual and finger dexterity.
  • Have physical endurance that enables them to stay on task for a prolonged period while sitting, standing or moving.
  • Have the visual and perceptual abilities sufficient for observation of patients, oral conditions and assessment. They need these to discriminate between subtle changes in oral conditions clinically and radiographically. They must possess a high degree of hand-eye coordination.
  • Have auditory ability and other sensory skills sufficient to monitor and assess the health needs and diagnose the oral conditions of patients as well as maintain patient safety.
  • Have tactile sensitivity sufficient for the use of detection, light pressure and control when using small instruments in the oral cavity.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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 (Central Campus) or 610-718-1906 (West Campus).

Academic 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.

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 ADEX/CDCA examination if the following requirements have been met.

  • Minimum grade of "C" 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 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 can be found 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.