Dental Hygiene

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  • Dental Hygiene FAQ


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

    A dental hygienist must be licensed and registered by the state in which he/she practices. Dental hygienists have a minimum of two years' post-high school education, must pass a written national board examination and a regional or state clinical board. Dental hygienists have delegated patient care responsibilities and provide direct patient care.  In some states, dental hygienists work under general supervision, and in 44 states dental hygienists are allowed to give local anesthesia. 

    A dental assistant needs no formal training and assists the dentist under his/her direct supervision. Some dental assistants do elect to receive formal training and apply for certification from the national dental assisting certifying board.

    What is the difference between a dental hygienist with an associate degree and one with a bachelor's degree?

    Pre-licensure education in dental hygiene is offered throughout the United States at both degree levels, and both degrees result in a candidate prepared to apply for licensure. The registered dental hygienist with an associate degree is employed as a clinical dental hygienist while the dental hygienist with a bachelor's degree has a wider variety of employment opportunities.

    Baccalaureate-educated dental hygienists often find careers in research or marketing, education, a commission in the public health corps, federal, state and county public health positions, patient advocates and various entrepreneurial opportunities.

    What is the starting salary range in private dental practices in Mississippi?

    Salaries vary depending the state, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics has information on earnings in the United States that can be accessed through the Internet -

    Does your program have summer school?

    Yes.  There is a 10-week summer semester between the junior and senior year.

    Can I attend the program on a part-time basis?

    No, students in the dental hygiene program attend full-time.

    Can I work while I am attending school?

    The educational experience for two years at the Medical Center is sufficiently intense that working takes away from necessary study time. Therefore, working is discouraged. A variety of financial aid is available for dental hygiene students. This information is obtainable through the Office of Student Financial Aid once an applicant has been accepted into the program.

    When do dental hygiene students begin providing patient care?

    Dental hygiene students work with their peers as patients the fall semester of the junior year. In the spring semester of the junior year, students treat patients in the dental hygiene clinic located in the dental school. The student clinical experiences increase each semester of enrollment.

    What is a clinical rotation?

    Clinical rotations are those experiences obtained in dental facilities outside the institution's dental hygiene clinic, for example, at a veteran's hospital, a correctional facility, a public clinic or specialty dental practices in the area.