6 Things You Should Know About Dental Hygiene Schools

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Information on dental hygiene schools are hard to come by. You may have visited the websites of other dental hygiene programs, but no site has really boiled down the key facts on these schools.

So what do you really need to know before you get started?

If you’re looking to learn the most important things about getting your dental hygiene education in 5 minutes or less, then you’ll love this infographic.

Here are the key things that you should know about dental hygiene schools:



1)      The Majority of Dental Hygiene Programs Have Limited Enrollment

While there are some courses that are easy enough to get into, it is pretty common for dental hygiene schools to have restrictions on the amount of students they can support. Whether it’s going to be difficult to get accepted to a particular school will depend on that school’s reputation, location, and the specifics of their dental hygiene program.

In general, dental hygiene is viewed as a very appealing career choice. Many are starting to recognize the long term effects caused by the growing need of dental hygienists in the United States. It is becoming apparent that registered dental hygienists have certification to fall back on that will make it very easy for them to get a job. Even better, their position is viewed as being highly secure.

So, getting into one of the top dental hygiene schools in the country can be a bit of a challenge. There will be a lot more applicants to compete with and everyone will jump as high as they can to get accepted. As should you, so putting your all into studying in high school and scouting out the right school for the greatest education possible is definitely the way to go.


2)      Dental Hygiene Programs Have Low Acceptance Rates Due to Competition

Seriously, you will want to give 100% of your efforts here. According to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, associate’s level dental hygiene programs have historically had a 25% acceptance rate, meaning one in four students got in. Baccalaureate programs saw a 33% acceptance rate.

These are the entry level avenues for working towards legally practicing as a registered dental hygienist. For the highest ranked dental hygiene schools, the acceptance rate will be even lower than these national averages.

This puts further emphasis on getting your butt in gear, yesterday! If you want to enter one of the best dental hygiene schools in America, and you should, then you really have to work as hard as you can. While a fair percentage of applicants may be sending applications for numerous courses and they may have preference to other schools as well, there are still many that are trying their hardest too. So, don’t expect to get accepted anywhere prestigious if you’re not giving it your all.


3)      2,910 Clock Hours is the Average for a Dental Hygiene Program

As a dental hygiene student, you will spend an average of 2,910 clock hours on curriculum. This number will vary depending on the particular program and school, but this number is a fair estimate of what you can expect to spend. Of these hours, 684 clock hours will be invested in supervised clinical dental hygiene instruction.

An even greater number of clock hours are required if you wish to further your education in dental hygiene. This can be done by pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree. You can also save this for later on down the road, when you have already become a certified and practicing dental hygienist.

 Your hours invested in a dental hygiene program can also vary if you plan to take up an externship. An externship may be offered by the school you plan to go to. This provides a great opportunity, as with an externship, you are getting on-the-job training at a real dental workplace. All the while, it’s just a part of your program!


4)      A Dental Hygiene Program May Be Inconvenient

While seeking out an education in dental hygiene is definitely valuable, there are still some downsides to it. More specifically, there are a few inconveniences that may be seen as a turn off for many. Some of these inconveniences may be avoidable by choosing the right dental hygiene school and program. But even if they are avoidable, the little inconvenience may be worthwhile in the end.

 “54% of all dental hygiene programs utilize off-campus facilities for clinical purposes.”

 The traditional concept of getting to school and getting home is out the window. In most dental hygiene programs, you often find yourself going to other areas in the city as well. You may be doing your supervised clinical hours at a facility that’s 15 minutes away from the campus. The distances vary drastically, so getting more information on this before enrolling is a good idea. For some, travelling to other locations can be a deal breaker.

However, most schools try to jam in clinical hours whenever possible. This means you will likely have full days where you go to the clinical facilities, instead of having to travel there for a few hours each day. As mentioned earlier, supervised clinical clock hours average to 684 for dental hygiene students.

 80% of all dental hygiene programs require their students to perform clinical rotation in a public health or community environment.”

The vast majority of students will need to be a part of clinical rotation in either a public health or community environment. This isn’t as much of a deal breaker, but it does factor in additional transportation needs. As an example, the University of Nebraska Medical Center requires students to enter clinical rotation through their sealant programs with the public school system, then by assisting at County Health and a private practice location.

In the end, it’s all about giving the students as much experience as possible. Accountants go over all the rules, formulas, and other technical factors, which often play a role in their daily work. Meanwhile, dental students are faced with a unique profession that is hard to replicate from a student’s desk. So, getting these out of school work experiences where there isn’t an exceptional amount of pressure, will help you to grow confident before you practice as a licensed dental hygienist.

“40% of programs include summer study.”

No one likes summer school, so many will be turned off by this statistic. However, this isn’t high school anymore and what matters now is becoming the most successful student you can be. Once you do that, you are prepared to be the most successful professional possible. In this case, a respected registered dental hygienist with a secure job.

So, getting into one of the best dental hygiene schools may mean you have to study during the summer. There are some great schools that don’t require this, but there are certain variables you can’t control. If there is only one reputable dental hygiene school in your acceptable living area, and it requires summer studying, then you will have to deal with it. That is, if you’re serious about becoming a registered dental hygienist.


5)      Dental Hygiene Programs Commonly Offer Elective Courses

Specialization tracks are not common with dental hygiene programs, as roughly 12% of all programs offer them. However, elective courses are fairly common as 47% of all dental hygiene programs offer them. For clarity purposes, an elective course is an optional course, chosen by the student, while a specialization track is a compilation of courses designed to direct a student towards an undergraduate or graduate program.

Elective courses and specialization tracks are more common in baccalaureate programs, when compared to associate degree programs. If you aren’t intending on going for an undergraduate or graduate program, as many do not choose to do so, then you may still want to consider if any elective courses are of value to you. If so, this should play a role when choosing between the different dental hygiene schools in your area. 


6)      Here’s the Average Cost for a Dental Hygiene Program

Almost everything in life is a numbers game and school is no different. Sure, we wouldn’t care so much about the costs if there were schools for beer pong, ping pong, and tanning, but the truth is that we go to school to have a secure financial future. So, we can’t spend a fortune if the career isn’t going to pay off.

A career as a dental hygienist is a rewarding one. Job security is high and the number of positions in the United States is expected to rise nicely in the following years. Salaries aren’t incredibly high, but the short course length and reduced job stress definitely make up for it. Oh, and the courses are pretty affordable too.

$28,162 is the average cost for a master’s degree program in dental hygiene.

$36,463 is the average cost for an associate’s degree program in dental hygiene.

$48,617 is the average cost for a baccalaureate degree program in dental hygiene.

These numbers factor all tuition costs and additional expenses. This does not include your average cost of living or transportation. These numbers may seem staggering when looking at them as a whole, but it’s important to remember that financing is very common when enrolling in a degree program.

In fact, the Institute for College Access & Success reported that in 2012, 71% of graduates held a student loan debt. $29,400 was the average debt held. This is just for students holding a debt upon graduating, as some pay their debts off early. This statistic has seen a rise since 2008 in the amount of six percent per year.

So, in retrospect, the average cost of dental hygiene programs is pretty fair. The above statistic factors many lesser courses, which do not have nearly as appealing job outlooks. A career in dental hygiene is not lucrative in the traditional sense, as it’s a highly sought after profession that has a real purpose.

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