Thanks to new technology, dental checkups are getting easier all the time. Some dentists even treat cavities with "smart fillings," which contain fluoride that releases over time to protect the tooth from further decay.
With or without smart fillings, people need all the help they can get caring for their mouths. If you study dental hygiene, you'll learn how to care for teeth and gums and how to educate others about oral hygiene.
As a dental hygiene major, you’ll train to treat decay, diseases, and injuries of the mouth. You’ll also learn how to teach patients to care for their own teeth and gums.
Did You Know?
It may take you more than two years to complete an associate’s degree due to the prerequisites for this major.
Are You Ready To...?
- Intern in community dental offices
- Teach dental hygiene to schoolchildren
- Develop communication and people skills in psychology, speech, and sociology
- Practice dental techniques on models in your first year and on patients in your second year
It Helps To Be...
Attentive to detail, good with your hands, and interested in the health of all sorts of people. And, of course, you'll need to be comfortable working in people's mouths.
- Is the program accredited by the American Dental Association? If not, you won't be able to test for your state license.
- What courses are required for admission?
- If the program awards an associate’s degree, will you be able to transfer your credits to a four-year program if you decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree?
- Is there a dental school or clinic on campus or nearby?
Did You Know?
Older people aren’t really long in the tooth, because our teeth don’t grow as we age. It only looks that way because many older people suffer from gum disease, where the gums pull away from teeth.
You’ll begin your studies by taking anatomy, physiology, and pathology. In these classes, you’ll learn how the human body works. You'll study the relationship between diseases of the mouth and the rest of the body.
And you’ll learn about the importance of prevention in dental health care. For example, you’ll study how nutrition affects overall health, particularly dental health. These courses will be the foundation of your education, preparing you to train on real patients in clinical settings.