What is a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH)?
A dental hygienist is a licensed preventive oral health professional who provides educational, clinical and therapeutic services to the public. In order to become prepared to perform these services, the dental hygienist requires an extensive educational background.
As a licensed professional, you will join nurses, physical therapists, dentists, physicians, dietitians and others who practice under licensure –the strongest form of regulation used today. In accordance with state law, licensed individuals are the only persons meeting the minimum qualifications necessary to practice their profession.
In Ohio, in order to practice dental hygiene, you must graduate from an accredited dental hygiene program (LCCC- you will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science Degree), successfully pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBHDE), successfully pass the Commission on Dental Competency Assessments-CDCA (Clinical Exam), successfully pass the CDCA computer-simulated examination, complete a Criminal Records Check (BCI&I and FBI- the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation), pass a written jurisprudence examination on the Dental Practice Act, Chapter 4715. of the Ohio Revised Code, and complete an Ohio State Dental Board Dental Hygiene licensing application.
Where Do Dental Hygienists Work?
The practice of dental hygiene can be flexible. Employment may be full or part time, geared to individual needs and desires.
Although most dental hygienists work in private dental offices under the direction of the dentist, the profession of dental hygiene offers a variety of career options within a variety of health care settings such as schools, public health clinics, hospitals, managed care organizations, correctional institutions, and nursing homes or in a corporate environment. There are also additional opportunities for professional advancement. The many roles a dental hygienist plays include clinician, educator, administrator/ manager, researcher, consumer advocate and change agent. Other opportunities with additional education include sales, public health, education, research and expanded functions. In Lorain County, as well as throughout the United
States there are registrars and employment services throughout who may be of service in job placement.
Job market projections for registered dental hygienists are good.
Visit the U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics website for more information.
Read on to see how you can take advantage of the dental hygiene program at LCCC.
As a clinician what services will I perform?
Each state has its own specific regulations and the range of services performed by dental hygienists varies from one state to another. In Ohio the dental hygiene services include:
Perform Oral Health Care Assessments
- Review of patients’ medical and dental health histories
- Record blood pressure readings and vital signs
- Extra/intra-oral examinations and oral cancer screenings
- Dental chartings
- Periodontal chartings (health status of the gums)
- Expose, process, and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays);
- remove plaque and calculus (“tartar”) from above and below the gum–line using dental instruments
- apply cavity-preventive agents such as fluorides and sealants to the teeth
- administer local anesthetic and / or nitrous oxide analgesia
- selective polish including polishing restorations
- use of pulp-vitality equipment (status of tooth’s pulp chamber and nerves)
- use of diagnodent equipment-(cavity detection)
Oral Health Instruction
- educate patients on proper oral hygiene techniques to maintain healthy teeth and gums;
- counsel patients about biofilm (plaque) control and developing individualized at-home oral hygiene programs;
- administer smoking cessation programs
- administer caries (cavities) prevention programs
- counsel patients on the importance of good nutrition for maintaining optimal oral health.
What personal characteristics are needed to be successful in Dental Hygiene?
Students who are successful in Dental Hygiene are emotionally mature, academically strong, highly motivated, self-disciplined and willing and able to devote a considerable amount of time to their program. They are patient and enjoy working with and serving people.
The essential cognitive and physical functions necessary for completion of course objectives include: speaking, reading and writing effectively in the English language, hearing, critical thinking skills, vision, mobility, dexterity, bending, lifting, and time-management skills.
They must be able to perform under stressful conditions. The professional dental hygienist is committed to serving the community.
Are there physical requirements necessary to perform Dental Hygiene Functions?
There are physical requirements necessary to perform dental hygiene functions. A dental hygienist must have use of both hands, dexterity in the fingers and tactile sensitivity to manipulate dental instruments, materials, dental hand pieces, and operate dental equipment. The use of feet is necessary to manipulate a rheostat for hand pieces and other adjunct dental equipment. The body must be able to work from a dental operator stool in order to perform dental hygiene procedures. The ability to sit and stand for duration of time is also necessary.
Other specific requirements include color discrimination(differentiation of various shades of color and gradations from black to white); manual
dexterity/motor coordination (discern changes in surface textures by manipulating dental instruments, control exertion of hand/finger pressure); hand‐eye coordination(transfer of visual input in to motor output); physical communications (perceive sound through telephone, hear commands through operator’s face mask, discern blood pressure sounds);visual acuity (identify the working ends of various dental instruments and implements at a two foot distance); form/spatial ability (view in three‐dimensional relationships, distinguish subtle changes from one form or shape to another, discriminate intricate measurements); and language development(speak clearly so that a patient understands his/her dental condition)
A Dental Hygienist must have excellent manual dexterity, and must be able to use all sensory perceptions as well as mental and intellectual skills in verbal, written, mathematical and scientific areas.
What basic academic skills are needed in the Dental Hygiene program?
Students who are successful in Dental Hygiene have good skills in reading, writing, mathematics and science. Students should complete science and math courses and be successful in High school algebra, chemistry, and biology. Students must take science support courses at the College level, (completion of courses as current as possible- It is strongly recommended that applicants, who have not completed the science support courses within the last five years, consider auditing them as a refresher). The following courses are required for admission to the program: Anatomy and Physiology I, Anatomy and Physiology II, General Organic/Biochemistry, and General Microbiology.
The dental science information from these courses is integrated within each course, and is a significant component of clinical dental hygiene. As students observe, interpret, and analyze the data they are collecting from radiographic exposures, charting and examinations, they are studying disease transmission, making clinical decisions and formulating dental hygiene diagnoses, and treatment plans.
When will I be notified of acceptance to the Dental Hygiene program?
Fifteen students are admitted each Fall semester to begin the Dental Hygiene program. Letters of acceptance and/or denial are mailed from the Admission Office during May. The letter of acceptance will include an offer of acceptance (signature required on the official log) notification of the mandatory orientation session, information pertaining to mandatory physical exam with health packet, in addition to information pertaining to registration for the first semester.
What can I do if I am not accepted into the program?
Students who are not accepted are encouraged to meet with a counselor as soon as possible. Students not accepted will have to file a new application for the following year.
What facilities are used for clinical training?
The Dental Hygiene Clinic is located in the Health Sciences building on the LCCC campus, room HS 105. The clinical portion of the program is predominately completed on campus. The Dental Hygiene Clinic houses 14 dental hygiene operatories and is a dental hygiene treatment center to the community of patients interested in quality dental hygiene care. The dental hygiene student is afforded the opportunity to provide a comprehensive array of preventive services to his/her patients. Equipped with computers, monitors, digital radiography, panoramic and intraoral radiographic units, intraoral cameras and Pro Consult instructional software, the dental hygiene program offers students excellent supervised clinical instruction emphasizing the practice of dental hygiene that is consistent with quality standard of care.
How is the Dental Hygiene program set up?
The LCCC Dental Hygiene program is based on two years to complete 75 credit hours. First year students can expect day lectures and clinical introductory courses, in the Dental Hygiene major courses, to be held at the College five days a week. In addition, three-hour clinic sessions are held three times per week. Second year students can expect day lectures and a major focus on four-hour clinical sessions three times a week, including one evening session.
Does the college have baby-sitting services?
Yes. Inquiries should be made at the LCCC Children’s Learning Center, ext. 4038.
Will I be able to schedule required (non-Dental Hygiene) courses at times near or convenient to my Dental Hygiene classes?
Because of the times Dental Hygiene courses are scheduled, it is often necessary for students to schedule other classes at times that are not convenient. Dental Hygiene students, for example, may have to take a required non-dental hygiene course in the evening.
What suggestions do you have that would increase the likelihood of my being successful in Dental Hygiene?
Make up whatever deficiencies you have in the basic skills of reading, writing, math and science. Your counselor will help you determine these and provide additional suggestions for you.
How many hours of outside study will I need per week?
A general College guideline indicates that, on an average, students need two to three hours of outside study for each hour in class. The dental hygiene curriculum is challenging and requires student commitment to course preparation.
Is financial aid available for Dental Hygiene students?
Financial aid is available to qualified students through the Financial Aid Office. Allied Health and Nursing students are urged to make inquiry to determine if they are eligible. In addition, several dental and dental hygiene organizations offer scholarships throughout the academic year. Information is available from the program director after acceptance into the Dental Hygiene program.
Is there a student dental hygiene organization?
Yes. Membership in the Student Chapter of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association is a program requirement; the fee is included in the College fees for the program.
How much does the program cost?
The Dental Hygiene program costs include: College tuition costs, additional lab fees, and textbook costs, and several sets of uniforms, shoes, magnification loupes, instruments, ultrasonic, and purchase of all personal protection equipment needed throughout the clinical training. The student must also assume significant fees attached to all Board examinations. Total cost for the two years is approximately $18,000.
Can I reenter the program if I withdraw?
Students who desire to withdraw from a course must initiate the discussion with the Dental Hygiene Program Director. Subsequent result will be dismissal from the Dental Hygiene program. Withdrawal from the College consists of withdrawing from all enrolled courses. Students who withdraw from all courses cease to be LCCC students for the semester from which they have withdrawn. A student who stops attending class without following the withdrawal procedure continues to be enrolled. Depending on the reason for the student’s withdrawal/absence, a student who wishes to reenter the Dental Hygiene sequence after a year’s absence must make his/her intention known to the Dental Hygiene Program Director and to the Allied Health and Nursing Counselor as soon as possible. Reentering students are considered for acceptance based on available space, and faculty review of student’s status, and are NOT automatically accepted. If the student who has reapplied has been accepted, the student must attend all Dental Hygiene courses (even the ones that were completed successfully) and adhere to all the requirements, and protocols stated in the courses’ syllabi. The student must register for any and all Dental Hygiene Courses that were not completed successfully. Students seeking reentry after receiving a final grade in any Dental Hygiene course of a “D” or “F” can reapply one time to the program but are NOT automatically accepted.
Can I complete the program on a part-time basis?
No. There is no option to complete the program on a part-time basis. The two -year Dental Hygiene program is considered to be a full-time day program. The program is approximately 68 weeks long including one summer term between the first and second year.
Most students complete all of the general education courses including the science support courses Anatomy and Physiology I, Anatomy and Physiology II, General Organic/Biochemistry, General Microbiology prior to beginning the dental hygiene curriculum.
The dental science information from these courses is integrated within each course, and is a significant component of clinical dental hygiene. As students observe, interpret, and analyze the data they are collecting from radiographic exposures, charting and examinations, they are studying disease transmission, making clinical decisions and formulating dental hygiene diagnoses, and treatment plans. Researching and learning about the dental hygiene curriculum enables the student to understand the care a dental hygiene practitioner can make in contributing to a patient’s overall wellbeing.
The completion of any science support course work does not ensure an applicant he/she will gain formal entrance into dental hygiene.
Upon successful completion of the Dental Hygiene Program an Associate Degree of Applied Science is awarded.
Can I transfer credits from another college or university?
Once a student’s transcript has been evaluated for course equivalency, students are encouraged to schedule an appointment with a counselor. It is always the prerogative of the degree granting institution to accept or reject courses taken at an institution other than Lorain County Community College. (See Information for: Students Who Were Previously Enrolled in Another Dental Hygiene Program). All Dental Hygiene courses are scheduled in a designed sequence and approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
Can I work while attending the program?
Students enrolled in the program are counseled to limit employment due to fulltime scheduled courses and a rigorous curriculum requiring significant outside classroom studying and preparation.
A general College guideline indicates that students taking 12 or more hours (full -time) may work a maximum of 15-20 hours per week. Many Dental Hygiene students find they are not able to work at all while they are taking Dental Hygiene courses.
How many students are accepted?
Fifteen students each year are accepted into the Dental Hygiene Program.
What accommodations are there for students with special needs?
(See Technical Standards to determine the responsibilities of the dental hygiene student, and refer to the question: Are there physical requirements necessary to perform Dental Hygiene Functions)
The Accessibility Services Office exists to serve the needs of students with disabilities -physical, learning and/or emotional. If you are a person with a disability who needs accommodations or assistance, contact the O.S.N.S. located in the College Center building, second floor ext. 4058.