If there is one thing most people do not like to do it is visit the dentist. Everyone wants healthy teeth but hates to visit the people that can help us with this. One very valuable member of any dentist’s team is the dental hygienist. This highly-trained individual works to clean patient’s teeth and look for signs of gum disease and anything else that can prove troublesome. Most dental hygienists receive their initial training at community colleges where they obtain an Associate’s degree in Dental Hygiene. For those who wish to gain additional training and advancement opportunities within a dental practice or elsewhere online Bachelor’s degree programs are an option.
Online programs in dental hygiene can help graduates qualify for clinical work or positions in advocacy and education working with:
- Public health organizations
- Private dental practices
- Public health clinics
- Insurance companies
- Community colleges
This program will also allow students to sit for professional certification exams and greatly increase career opportunities.
Dental Bachelor’s Degree
Most online bachelor’s degree programs require dental hygienists to have a valid license and possess an associate’s degree or equivalent from a properly accredited dental hygiene program. Online programs award a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene to students and can be completed in two years. Some programs allow students to specialize in such areas as:
- Public health
- Special populations
- Patient education
Students in these programs will need a computer with high-speed internet and an e-mail account to complete assignments and interact with other students and instructors. Students can study at their convenience because course materials are exchanged between themselves and instructors through streaming video lectures, e-mail and online course management systems like Blackboard. Most interaction with other students takes place on discussion boards and live chat where students can bounce ideas off one another and seek answers to questions. Generally no on-campus attendance is required.
Dental Bachelor’s Degree Courses
The bachelor’s degree online curriculum includes both classroom and laboratory work. Programs that require lab work from students may arrange clinical experiences for them or leave it to students to make their own arrangements. Some of the typical courses in this program include:
- Dental hygiene clinical
- Dental public health
- Teaching dental hygiene
- Oral Epidemiology
- Practices in dental hygiene
The dental hygiene clinical course focuses on hands-on training and concentrates on infection control, dental care, ethics and patient education. Students work with special populations, coordinate patient care and study how private dental offices and public health clinics are run.
Public health focuses on community assessments. Students develop plans to deliver dental care and use statistical analysis to examine outcomes while also looking at federal, state and local public health.
Teaching dental hygiene looks at developing practical teaching methods. Students develop lesson plans and objectives while working with adults, children and special populations.
Oral epidemiology covers studying public health in a certain population. Students are trained in epidemiological study and analyzing results. Practices in dental hygiene examines current dental hygiene practices and trends in public and private care. The class emphasizes preventive oral care, delivery of services and assessment of needs.
Dental Bachelor’s Degree Careers
Dental hygienists will be one of the fastest-growing occupations of the next decade. Annual job growth will be an astounding 38% through 2020 and will offer very competitive salaries. Average annual salaries of dental hygienists will be just over $68,000 per year and those salaries will only increase for those hygienists with advanced education.