The courses taken by students in dental hygienist programs are designed to give them the skills they need to become licensed and practice professional dental hygiene. Some of them are prerequisite foundation courses with more of a general-education focus, while others are core courses that provide career-oriented education for dental hygienists. Still others are for more advanced study.
Below are some of the dental hygienist courses students study while in dental hygiene programs.
Anatomy of the Head and Neck – Anatomy is the study of the human body and all of its parts. Anatomy of the head and neck is a closer look at the head, neck, jaw, and associated parts, and how they work together.
Anesthesia – Anesthesia is used during dentistry for more advanced procedures such as root canals and surgeries. Special training is needed for dental hygienists who use anesthetics, as they are dangerous and can endanger a patient’s life if used improperly.
Chemistry – This prerequisite course has to do with the elements that make up the earth’s substances and how they interact. It provides a foundation for courses such as pharmacology and anesthesia.
Clinical Periodontics – Periodontology is the study of the tooth’s supporting structures, including the gums and underlying bone. Clinical periodontics focuses on the gums, including the treatment of gum disease and other conditions that affect the gums.
Communications – This foundation course has to do with the transfer of information through various channels, including written, spoken, telephonic, and electronic. The focus of courses in this subject area may vary depending on the particular dental hygiene program.
Dental Hygiene Theory & Practice – The theory of dental hygiene deals with the career-focused aspects of the role in an abstract way, discussing the career as a concept. Practice aspects of the subject deal with actual dental practices, and may or may not include hands-on instruction in a clinical setting.
Dental Hygiene Practicum – This is a graduate-level course where a dental hygiene student practices in a clinical setting under the supervision of a dentist or instructor. It is used during the core segments of some degree programs and in advanced dental hygienist programs.
Dental Hygiene Radiology – Radiology is the study of using radiation in a healthcare setting for taking diagnostic x-rays. In dental practice, this is applied to taking x-rays of the teeth and jaws.
Dental Pharmacology – This dental hygienist course is the study of drug interactions as they relate to dental practice, such as the use of anti-inflammatories, Novocain and other anesthetics.
Oral Pathology – Pathology is the study of disease, and oral pathology deals with diseases of the mouth, teeth and gums, including symptoms and diagnoses.
Histology – This life science course is on the cellular anatomy of living organisms. It is a higher-level foundation course to most dental hygienist programs.
Medical Terminology – This basic medical prerequisite course covers the terms and etymology of medical practice.
Oral Microbiology – Microbiology is the study of cellular organisms such as bacteria. In dental hygiene courses, oral microbiology focuses on the bacteria present within the mouth.
Psychology – This foundation-level course is the study of the human mind and its behaviors. The focus of courses within the broad subject may vary considerably in dental hygiene programs.
Public Health Dentistry – This higher-level dental hygienist course has to do with dental health as it applies to a population rather than an individual. Dental hygienists studying this subject area deal with the fluoridation of drinking water, public access to dental services, and other issues that affect populations.
There may be many other courses involved in a dental hygienist training program, depending on the level of education sought. Ask enrollment officials for more information about the specific dental hygienist courses included in their school programs.