Dental Hygiene (DH)

(Effective Fall 2013)

This curriculum offers the theoretical and clinical education needed for a variety of dental hygiene careers. The major provides a diversified background to prepare students for licensing exams, immediate employment, and lifelong learning.

Career Opportunities

Dental hygienists are employed by dentists in private dental practices, research, government health agencies, school systems, hospital and industrial clinics, military services, and in dental hygiene education programs.

Recommended High School Subjects

Because of the strong emphasis on science in this major, applicants are encouraged to complete one year of high school biology, two years of high school algebra, and chemistry with a laboratory.

Special Admissions Requirements

SAT or ACT scores are strongly advised for applicants applying within two years of high school graduation. A minimum 2.0 GPA in math/science is required in order to be considered for admission in the major. Acceptance into this competitive major is based on an admissions ranking process. To view acceptance criteria, testing requirements, performance expectations, and the admissions ranking system, consult the detailed special admissions information.

Special Equipment Needs

Upon admission to this major, additional expenses will be encountered for uniforms, personal protective equipment, and instruments.

Remediation Strategies

Deficiencies identified by placement testing will be remediated prior to admission. Chemistry must be satisfied prior to admission to the major. Applicants not having a "C" or better in high school chemistry with a lab within the past 10 years must pass one of the following: CHM 100, or CHM 108 or higher, or an adult education chemistry course at an approved high school prior to admission to the Dental Hygiene major.

Transfer Procedures

Students in this major can transfer to the Dental Hygiene bachelor-degree option (BDE) or the Applied Health Studies major (BAH). This major will subscribe to the transfer standards established by the College.

International health credentials/licensure, sciences courses, and most math courses will not be accepted to satisfy requirements of this major. Please see additional information for international students applying to Health Sciences majors.

Program Goals

A graduate of this major should be able to:
  • apply the ADHA Professional Code of Ethics in all endeavors.
  • adhere to state and federal laws and regulations in the provision of dental hygiene care.
  • utilize methods to ensure the health and safety of the patient and the dental hygienist in the delivery of dental hygiene.
  • manage medical emergencies in the patient care environment through recognition and/or provision of appropriate life support measures.
  • assume responsibility for dental hygiene actions and care based on accepted scientific theories and research as well as the accepted standard of care.
  • provide accurate, complete, and confidential documentation of dental hygiene services rendered in the dental hygiene process of care.
  • utilize published oral health research and critically apply this information to the practice of dental hygiene.
  • communicate effectively with individuals and diverse population groups.
  • promote and support the profession through service activities and affiliations with professional organizations.
  • practice self-assessment that leads to ongoing professional growth and life-long learning.
  • identify dental hygiene career opportunities within health care systems, industry, education, and research.
  • collect, analyze, and record data on the general, oral, and psychosocial health status of a variety of patients using methods consistent with medico-legal principles.
  • use diagnostic technologies and critical decision-making skills to formulate a dental hygiene diagnosis and reach conclusions about the patient's dental hygiene needs based on all available assessment data.
  • collaborate with the patient and other health care professionals as indicated, to formulate a comprehensive dental hygiene care plan that is patient centered and based on the best scientific evidence and professional judgment.
  • provide specialized treatment that includes preventive and therapeutic services designed to achieve and maintain oral health.
  • evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented clinical, preventive, and educational services, and modify as needed.
  • assess the oral health needs and services of the community to determine action plans and availability of resources.
  • provide screening, referral, and educational services in a variety of community settings.
  • evaluate reimbursement mechanisms and their impact on patient access to oral health care.
  • evaluate the outcomes of community-based programs and plan for future activities.


Performance Standards

Students must earn a minimum grade of 'C' in each aspect of their dental hygiene courses. Failure to do so will result in termination from the major.


First Semester Credits
FYE101 First Year Experience 1  
DEN103 Dental Hygiene I 4  
DEN104 Preventive Dentistry 2  
DEN107 Orofacial Anatomy 3  
DEN108 Oral Histology 1  
BIO115 Human Anatomy and Physiology I 4  
ENL111 English Composition I 3  
Second Semester Credits
DEN123 Dental Radiology 3  
DEN126 Dental Hygiene II 5  
DEN130 Introduction to Periodontics 2  
DEN211 Oral Health and Nutrition 2  
BIO201 Microbiology 4  
BIO125 Human Anatomy and Physiology II 4  
Summer Session Credits
MMM Math Elective (MTH151 or Higher) 3  
Third Semester Credits
DEN202 General and Oral Pathology 2  
DEN204 Pharmacology 2  
DEN212 Periodontics II 1  
DEN214 Dental Materials and Specialties 3  
DEN216 Dental Hygiene III 6  
PSY111 General Psychology 3  
Fourth Semester Credits
DEN220 Community Dental Health 2  
DEN224 Dental Law and Ethics 1  Writing Enriched Requirement
DEN227 Dental Hygiene Theory and Practice 5  
DEN240 Techniques in Pain Control 2  
CSC124 Information, Technology, and Society 3  
SPC101 Fundamentals of Speech 3  
FIT Fitness and Lifetime Sports Elective 1  
SSE Social Science Elective 3  

Notice of Conviction

Child abuse clearance and criminal background checks are required by some agencies involved in fieldwork and/or capstones. Agencies can bar students from their sites if a criminal record exists or a positive drug test is noted. By virtue of contract for Penn College students to be at clinical sites, agencies have the right to ask for random drug testing. The Pennsylvania Board of Dentistry advises that a drug-related conviction and/or conviction of a felonious act can result in denial and/or revocation of a license to practice dental hygiene. Inability to gain clinical or fieldwork or intern education experiences results in inability to meet program objectives and outcomes. For additional clarification, students can speak with their program director.


The associate degree program in dental hygiene is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted the accreditation status of APPROVAL (without reporting requirements). The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312) 440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611-2678. The Commission’s web address is:


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