Although obtaining your dental hygiene degree straight out of high school is ideal, everyone is not able to do this. Perhaps financially, you must work your way through college while you continue your studies or perhaps you already have started your family and need a program that suits your busy schedule. In some cases, an individual may already work in the dental environment and find themselves interested in furthering their education and, therefore, hoping to advance in their career as a dental hygienist. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that an online associate degree in dental hygiene is the way to go.
Many universities have started offering dental hygiene degrees online, however, some hands-on clinical and laboratory experience is required. The online option gives students of all ages and career paths more flexibility to learn at their own pace. A few examples of schools offering online learning options include Western Kentucky University, University of New Mexico and the Pennsylvania College of Technology.
Studies show that online degrees are just as valuable and satisfactory to a potential employer as the degree earned at a traditional brick and mortar college or university. Most employers are looking at the reputation of the institution in which you receive your diploma, however, it will be your responsibility to make sure you are enrolled in an accredited online school with certification by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. You may also consider checking with local businesses, within the dental realm, in your own community to see what sort of relationship they have with the online school of your choice.
As a student in an online Associate of Dental Hygiene degree program, you will primarily learn to perform routine teeth cleanings, assess patient complaints, perform and read x-rays and maintain patient treatment records. Your major and basic courses will be accomplished through the online program and then your clinical experience will need to be done in an on-campus lab or through an internship. Your lab and internship experience will be the most valuable portion of your dental hygiene education.
Common courses taken through an online Associate of Dental Hygiene program may include biology, chemistry, pharmacology, anatomy and preventative dentistry which includes assessing patient oral health, detecting mouth infections and good oral health care in general. You will also learn to recognize periodontal and gum diseases and their treatments. Dental hygienists are trained to identify tooth irregularities and how to read dental charts and study tooth forms and structures. Also, speech and psychology classes are required to ensure excellent patient-hygienist relationships. As a dental hygienist, a passion for helping people is a must.
Your online associate degree in dental hygiene program will prepare you to take the examination given by the American Dental Association. This licensure, along with your state’s required exam, will allow you to be a dental hygienist in no time at all.
Please be aware, when pursuing a degree online that you will be responsible for reliable internet access and for updated versions of operating systems and web browsers. Your instructors will always be available to you through e-mail or online message boards. On-site clinical work may require you to provide your own uniforms, textbooks and your supplies.
Graduates from an associate degree program as a dental hygienist can then be eligible for entry into the bachelor’s degree program, if you so desire, to further your career and enter dental research or pursue a teaching career in the dental field. If you are interested in pursuing an online associate degree in dental hygiene, please check out our Top Online Programs to help you in your efforts.