Dental hygienists are required to be licensed in the state where they practice. Students must graduate from an accredited dental hygienist program and pass both a written and clinical examination to receive a dental hygienist certificate. A dental hygienist works closely with dentists and dental assistants. They prepare clinical and laboratory diagnostic tests for the dentist to interpret; remove tartar, stains and plaque from teeth; examine the gums and teeth to look for disease or oral abnormalities; and take x-rays and apply fluoride. Dental hygienists also educate dental patients on how to obtain and maintain excellent oral hygiene by showing them how to floss and brush correctly.
Oral radiology, dental materials, oral histology, oral biology, clinical techniques, clinical dental hygiene, nutrition, and head and neck anatomy are just a few courses that will prepare students to enter the field of dentistry. An associate degree will get you in the field, but a bachelor's or master's degree is usually required for individuals who want to enter research, teaching, or clinical practice in public health programs or in schools. There were more than 180,000 practicing dental hygienists in 2010, and the job outlook is expected to grow 38 percent by 2020.
University of Alaska Anchorage offers 2 Dental Hygiene/Hygienist degree programs. It's a large, public, four-year university in a large city. In 2019, 19 Dental Hygiene/Hygienist students graduated with students earning 13 Associate's degrees, and 6 Bachelor's degrees.