Dental Hygiene

Where do dental hygienists work?
Dental hygienists are employed in private practice dental offices and dental clinics. Many dental hygienists work for public health departments, dental product companies and insurance companies. Hospitals and educational settings also employ dental hygienists.

Will I need to bring my patients once I begin my clinical classes?
The College of Dentistry has a large patient population, and quite a number of those are going to be utilized by the Dental Hygiene program. You are also welcome to bring anyone to the College of Dentistry as a new patient.

Where do we take our clinical courses?
Clinical courses are taught at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. Therefore, travel is required and students are responsible for their own transportation. Students often car pool to the College of Dentistry.

Do I need to have a physical and my Hepatitis B immunization before I start the program?
You need to have a current physical on file and have started your Hepatitis B Series when you begin the clinical portion of the program.

What high school courses will help me prepare for the Dental Hygiene program?
Biology, chemistry, psychology, sociology, English and computer classes will help prepare you for the Dental Hygiene curriculum.

What prerequisite courses are required before I can begin the program?
Intro to Chemistry; Intro to Chemistry Lab, Intro to Math, Microcomputer Literacy and Human Anatomy & Physiology I OR Human Anatomy.

What Kirkwood courses can I take before I start the program?
In addition to the prerequisites, you may take Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II, Health Skills I, Professionals in Health, Microbiology, Fundamentals of Communication, Composition I, Intro to Sociology, and General Psychology.

What degree do I have when I graduate?
An Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene.

How can I transfer courses from another college to Kirkwood?
Have an official copy of your transcript sent to Enrollment Services. Your transcript will be evaluated for general education courses.

How are hygienists licensed?
After successful completion of both the National Board Dental Hygiene and the regional board for the area of the county in which you want to work, you apply for licensure. If licensure is granted, you become a registered dental hygienist.

What agency regulates the profession?
The Iowa Board of Dental Examiners is the state agency charged with the overall responsibility of regulating the professions of dentistry, dental hygiene and dental assisting in the state of Iowa.

Can I finish my bachelor s degree, and what majors do dental hygienist choose?
Degree completion can be achieved at universities and colleges nationwide. Dental hygienists often choose education, public health, nutrition or business as majors. The University of Iowa offers a degree completion program, Health Occupations Education, and they are currently developing a degree completion focusing on oral health.

Does taking general education classes ahead shorten the length of the program?
It doesn't shorten the length but it does lighten your class load per semester.

Can I hold down a part-time job while enrolled in the Dental Hygiene program?
The curriculum is very intense and your class schedule is quite busy, which makes it difficult to work while in the program. Taking general education classes before beginning the program will lighten your class load.

Do I need to buy a uniform?
You will be required to purchase a lab coat for classes at Kirkwood. This will be done during registration. Lab coats for clinic at the College of Dentistry will be supplied. You will also be required to purchase scrubs to wear during clinical experiences.

What is the job outlook for dental hygienists?
Dental hygienists can be compensated in a variety of ways; including an hourly wage, commission or a combination of several methods. Graduates can expect a base salary $27.64/hr (source: graduate survey - 2006 grads) For additional information on the job outlook go to

What is the difference between a dental assistant and a dental hygienist?

Dental Assistant Dental Hygienist
Certified Dental Assistant Registered Dental Hygienist
Member of dental team Member of dental team
Assist DDS directly Provide direct patient care
Expose radiographs Patient assessment
Office duties Patient education
Infection control Expose radiographs
Inventory control Treatment planning