Can I Get an Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene Online?

It is quite possible to earn an associate’s degree in dental hygiene online. Many of these programs will refer students to internship programs to help them gain practical experience. Some of the better online programs will actually be hybrid programs that require students to attend a few on-campus clinical laboratory classes. Regardless of the online program you choose, it should be accredited through the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation group and you should keep in mind that online dental programs are best suited for students who are visual learners.

Admission Requirements

To be admitted into a dental hygiene degree program, students must have a high school diploma or GED. Students must submit current CPR cards for health care providers and maintain them throughout the program. Students must complete and submit required proof of immunity and health declaration documents that are signed by a licensed health care provider.

Some programs will require students to pass a drug screen test and background check, which are prerequisite requirements for state licensure. Hybrid programs will require students to commit to occasional participation in classroom, laboratory or clinical program activities. Almost all online programs require students to complete prerequisite classes in general biology, chemistry, reading and communications.

Basic Classes

Students who are earning an online associate’s degree in dental hygiene will take a variety of dental assistance classes. A basic class involves the introduction to general dentistry skills, the dental sciences and basic preclinical dental assistance theories. Topics to be studied include dental anatomy, oral conditions, infection control, clinical preparation and patient safety and comfort. Students may take classes in periodontics and learn how to educate patients about genetics, implant treatments, periodontal diseases, salivary diagnostics and tissue regeneration.

Students will also learn about emergency management techniques and how to use and maintain dental equipment. Intermediate dental assistance classes include introductions to dental diseases, prevention theories and general dental restorative procedures. This means that students will learn about common local anesthetics, dental materials and pharmacological agents used in dental procedures. There will always be a class on patient records, dental office and information systems management.

Advanced Classes

Near the end of graduation, students will learn how to assist in dental specialty procedures. This includes surgery related to pediatrics, periodontics, orthodontics and prosthodontics. Students who want to learn about dental anesthesia may be able to take classes that meet the licensure requirements in their state. These courses cover head and neck anatomy, nitrous administration, dental anesthesia techniques and medical emergencies.

Students will learn about radiography physics, production theories, exposure techniques, film processing and digital image production. Radiation protection, such as radiation safety and infection control procedures for operator and patient, are always emphasized. Some programs may allow students to take an oral radiography review class that provides the fundamentals of x-ray evaluation and quality assurance. These are usually intended for dental assistants who are preparing for their state’s x-ray certification.

An online two-year degree in dental hygiene is an excellent way to jump start a career in the exciting field of dental hygiene. These special dental hygiene programs can usually be found in technical schools and community colleges. Those who want to earn an associate’s degree in dental hygiene online can search the American Dental Hygenie Association’s (ADHA) website for an accredited program.

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