Associate in Applied Science Degree in Dental Hygiene is a 74-credit-hour program for persons wishing to practice dental hygiene under the supervision of a practicing dentist. The program includes a career general education component as well as a strong area of concentration in dental hygiene. Courses in this program can be used to transfer to a bachelor’s degree.
Through classroom work and laboratory and clinical experience in the on-campus public dental hygiene clinic, students learn to conduct patient assessments, take medical and dental histories, perform diagnostic tests and examinations, instruct patients in preventative dental health practices, perform various dental procedures, and design and implement community and school health programs. Persons interested in this program should enjoy working with people from all age groups. Interests in biology and the health sciences also are important. Good eye/hand coordination and attention to detail are necessary.
Graduates are qualified for positions as dental hygienists and may serve as clinical practitioners in general or specialty dental practice, educators, researchers, administrators, managers, program developers, consultants or dental product sales representatives. Employment is available in the military, health maintenance organizations, community health agencies, private industry and abroad with the Peace Corps or the World Health Organization.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow much faster than average for all occupations through 2014, ranking among the fastest-growing occupations. The department states that this growth is in response to increasing demand for dental care and the greater utilization of hygienists to perform services previously performed by dentists.