Dental hygienists and dentists can restore and promote patients’ oral health. Both jobs focus on preventative care and overall dental health, cleaning teeth, evaluating gums, and providing fluoride.
Suppose you are passionate about providing care to your community as an expert in oral health and want to join an in-demand career field as a dental hygienist. In that case, you should consider a pre-dental hygiene track program.
This article will unpack what a pre-dental hygiene program is, the curriculum involved, and what students can expect after completing this type of program.
What is a Pre-Dental Hygiene Program?
Pre-dental hygiene programs are courses of study designed to prepare students for Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) programs or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) programs.
Often pre-dental programs are not academic majors but a pathway to help students get into dental school. Although pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (BSDH) before dental school is an increasingly popular option.
Bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene combine the professional dental hygiene curriculum with liberal arts education and enhance the dental hygienist’s opportunities, skills, background knowledge, and professional values.
What is the Curriculum like in a Pre-Dental Hygiene Track Program?
The curriculum in pre-dental hygiene track programs varies slightly depending on the college or university. However, students typically complete a comprehensive general education, core curriculum, and dental school prerequisites in their first year.
The thirty-two credit standard general education courses in the first year of study include:
- English Composition
- Introduction to Chemistry (with lab)
- Intro to College Algebra with Statistics
- Anatomy & Physiology I and II
To enter the second year, many universities require a certain GPA from students. For example, our pre-dental hygiene program at University of Bridgeport requires a cumulative GPA of 2.70 with a prerequisite GPA of 3.00 upon completing the one-year pre-dental hygiene curriculum.
Students can expect to move past general education courses and into specialized dental hygiene coursework in their second and third years.
- Oral Anatomy and Embryology
- Clinical Practice I
- Clinical Practice II
- Dental Materials
Completion of seventy-eight credits allows students to earn their Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene (ASDH) degree. Upon completion of an associate program, students are then eligible for national, regional, and state board examinations and can apply for licensure.
Finally, students in the fourth year of their Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree programs complete advanced coursework through flexible on-campus or online options while obtaining employment as registered dental hygienists.
Licensure enables students to obtain advanced internship opportunities and research activities that will help them long after graduation.
Students in the fourth year of study wrap up their studies with the following twenty-six credits of courses:
- Statistical Reasoning
- Dental Hygiene Internship
- Dental Hygiene Research
- Capstone Project
After four years and one hundred and twenty total credit hours, students successfully complete their Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene program and enter an in-demand career with a strong job placement and salary outlook.
Learn more about how UB’s Pre-Dental track can set you up for success as a future Dental Hygiene student!
What Can I Do After a Pre-Dental Hygiene Track Program?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dental hygiene jobs are expected to grow nine percent by 2031, faster than the average for all occupations. This also results in about 16.300 openings for dental hygienists each year.
With such high demand and positive job outlook, it’s unsurprising that many students pursue a career as dental hygienists through pre-dental hygiene track programs.
As mentioned, many students pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in dental hygiene, dental medicine, or dental surgery after completing a pre-dental bachelor’s hygiene track program.
Others take the skills and dental hygiene practices they learned to enter the workforce and secure jobs as dental hygienists, dental supply sales representatives, health educators, and dental hygiene instructors.
And while most dental hygienists find employment in the offices of dentists, physicians, and governments, others find work in orthodontic clinics, community, and university clinics, non-profit organizations, and dental supply companies.
Furthermore, candidates can expect to earn a competitive salary with a median annual wage of $77,810 per year and benefits such as vacation, sick leave, and retirement contributions.
Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene at University of Bridgeport
Our pre-dental hygiene track program at University of Bridgeport combines general education courses with courses from the Fones School of Dental Hygiene to offer students a comprehensive professional and liberal arts education.
Each student graduates the one-hundred-and-twenty credit program with an awareness of health literacy, the clinical skills needed to provide excellent care to patients, and a commitment to life-long learning and professional growth.
Plus, with flexible online options, there is no reason why you can’t begin an exciting, fulfilling, and rewarding journey to a career as a dental hygienist today.
Learn more about why University of Bridgeport and the Fones School of Dental Hygiene are premier names in dental hygiene education. But don’t wait. Your future starts now!