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Department Spotlight: Dental Hygiene

Want some lifesaving advice?  Ask your Dental Hygienist!

Dental Hygienists are a community of professionals devoted to the prevention of oral disease and the promotion and improvement of the public’s health.  Dental Hygienists are the preventive oral health professionals who provide educational, clinical and therapeutic services to the public.  As healthcare professionals, they are called upon to know a wide range of information related to patient health and disease.

Today, the profession of Dental Hygiene is entering a truly exciting time.  Professionals and patients alike now understand the preventive purpose of the dental hygienist.  Employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the next 10 years in response to increasing demand for dental care and the greater number of services that were previously performed by dentists.  Population growth and the greater emphasis on retaining natural teeth stimulate the demand for dental hygienists.  In addition, as the dentists’ workloads increase, they are expected to hire more hygienists to perform preventive dental care and patient education so that they may devote their own time to more complex and profitable procedures.

Because it is a highly regulated profession requiring licensure throughout the United States in accordance with the laws of each state, licensed individuals are the only persons meeting the qualifications necessary to practice their profession.  In New Jersey, there are only five academic institutions offering an accredited program in Dental Hygiene awarding an Associate in Applied Science degree.

The academically demanding program at Middlesex County College has been nationally recognized since its beginnings over 40 years ago because of its consistently high passing rate on all qualifying examinations and the excellent skills possessed by the graduates  There is high competition for its 30 places each year.

Do you have what it takes to become a Dental Hygienist?  Here are some guidelines:

  • You must have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher.
  • You must earn a grade of “C” or better in high school laboratory biology and laboratory chemistry.
  • Once you apply, you must take an entrance examination.
  • You must like the healthcare field; you should enjoy talking to and interacting with people and have manual dexterity and tactile sensitivity to properly manipulate dental instruments within the limited space of a patient’s mouth.

As a Dental Hygiene student, you will find the program very rigorous and highly rewarding.  You will work closely with the professional faculty of outstanding teachers who are also licensed hygienists and dentists.  You will begin working on a wide variety of patients in a clinical setting during your second semester, including our state-of-the-art on-site dental clinic, local hospitals and public schools.  You will be trained to perform services including oral examinations, oral cancer screenings, scaling, root planning, polishing, applying decay-preventing agents, taking and processing dental x-rays, giving nutritional counseling and providing patient education in preventive dentistry. You will always be part of a team and will always be expected to keep up with the advances in the field, even after licensure, by taking continuing education programs.

When you major in dental hygiene, you can also transfer to a four-year college or university. Many schools will apply the credits you have earned toward an advanced degree.  Master’s level programs are offered for those interested in education, research or administration.  Your advisor will assist you in this process.

Although private practice is the main career for a Dental Hygienist, it is also the first step in many other careers.  Employment opportunities are endless and include dentistry, research, education, public health and sales for the dental and pharmaceutical industry.  As a healthcare professional, you will be called upon to know a wide range of information related to patient health and disease.

Is Dental Hygiene the field for you?  For answers to your specific questions, contact Department Chairperson, Professor Claire Pean, at 732-906-2536.