Behind every dentist is a team of highly skilled dental hygienists who maintain relationships with patients, educate patients on the health of their teeth, clean and polish patients’ teeth, and even catch dental problems before the dentist comes around to begin an exam. In other words, dental hygienists are the backbone of every dental office. They’re great at solving problems, working closely with others, and prioritizing tasks. So, if you’re considering dental hygiene school, you’re probably highly motivated, academically inclined, organized, and fastidious. You may have already done plenty of research to prepare for the rigors of dental hygiene school. Still, many students find that dental hygiene school tests their abilities, confidence, and even passion. If you’re considering attending dental hygiene school in Connecticut, here are five tips to make your dental hygiene program experience successful and as low-stress as possible.
1. Prepare Yourself for the Admissions Process
The first step to beginning dental hygiene school is, of course, to apply! Before applying to your dental hygiene program, you can set yourself up for success by researching your preferred program’s admissions requirements. At University of Bridgeport, applicants are required to complete a variety of prerequisite courses before they are admitted. These classes include:
- Anatomy and Physiology I and II
- Introduction to Chemistry
- Composition and Rhetoric/English Composition
- Introduction to College Algebra/Statistics
It is also recommended that students complete Intro to Psychology as well as a Humanities Elective and Fine Arts Elective.
Additionally, students are required to submit the following documents as part of their application for admission:
- Application to University of Bridgeport (see application here)
- Fones School of Dental Hygiene Supplemental Application
- Proof of High School Graduation
- Transcripts from all previously attended colleges or universities
- Two complete recommendation forms
- Personal essay
It is also expected that applicants possess manual dexterity, coordination and use of both upper and lower limbs, critical thinking skills, communication abilities, and the ability to obtain a dental hygiene license (some states deny licenses to those who have been previously convicted of a felony).
2. Understand the Program Requirements
Another way you can make sure you prosper in dental hygiene school is to understand all that will be required of you academically during your program. Academic requirements can depend on whether you decide to earn an associate degree (ASDH) or bachelor of science in Dental Hygiene (BSDH). As a dental hygiene student, regardless of which degree you intend on earning, you will be required to complete a highly specific selection of courses in order to be eligible for licensure. These courses can typically be completed within two school years, plus a summer term. They can include such classes as:
- Dental Radiology
- Oral Anatomy
- Dental Materials
- Dental Public Health
- Local Anesthesia
Additionally, you will be required to complete clinical training under the direction of experienced dental hygienists and professionals. For example, those completing their master’s in Dental Hygiene at UB are helping to train the next generation of dental hygienists through student teaching experiences in clinical, laboratory, and didactic settings.
3. Maintain a Good “Work-Life-School” Balance
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your education is to make sure that you maintain a healthy balance between your work, school, and personal life. Make time for exercise and eating healthy meals. Make sure you’re getting sufficient sleep, too. With enough rest, you’ll be able to focus in class and clinical rotations, guaranteeing you absorb more information. When you have a good balance between work, life, and school, you’ll also be safeguarding your mental health. Any kind of higher education experience can be stressful! Make sure you’re taking steps to keep yourself healthy and happy. Create an organized schedule with devoted blocks of time for your work,
homework, and even exercise and rest. By keeping track of your day, you’ll be setting yourself up for long-term success.
4. Find a Mentor in Your Faculty
Dental hygiene school can be difficult to navigate on your own. Though your academic advisor can be a great resource, consider finding a mentor within your school’s faculty. A mentor can help you by giving interview advice, guiding you through the transition to professional life, and more. They can provide you with introductions and networking connections, which can be vitally important to your career’s success. When choosing your mentor, look for someone you have a natural connection to. This relationship will be a close one, so you should be able to get along easily. Your future mentor should also be a working dental professional or someone who has had a vibrant and successful career. With experience comes wisdom, wisdom which you can benefit from as a mentee!
5. Ask for Help When You Need It
Dental hygiene school can be challenging for students. For some, this may be the first time they will have ever struggled academically. After all, those who enter dental hygiene school tend to be high-achievers, both personally and academically. If you find yourself struggling at any point in your dental hygiene school journey, it’s important to have the flexibility and self-compassion to reach out for help. Your professors want you to be successful, as do your academic support team members. If you need suggestions for developing new study or test-taking skills, set an appointment to meet with your professors during their office hours. It’s always ok to reach out for support.
Dental hygiene school can be challenging, but it is entirely possible to achieve. The good news is you’re completely in charge of your own success. By preparing yourself for dental school by knowing what to expect, establishing a strong network of faculty and friends, and making sure to maintain a healthy balance between your schoolwork and personal time, you’ll be sure to flourish in your dental hygiene program.
Is a career in Dental Hygiene in your future? There’s a dental hygiene school in Connecticut, for you! Learn more about University of Bridgeport’s Dental Hygiene programs, here.