Associate in Applied Science (AAS)
Offered through Health Sciences
@ Forest Park
This program prepares students to practice dental hygiene under the supervision of a practicing dentist. Through classroom work and laboratory and clinical experience in the on-campus public dental hygiene clinic, students learn to conduct patient assessments, take medical and dental histories, perform diagnostic tests and examinations, instruct patients in preventive dental health practices, perform various dental procedures and to design and implement community and school health programs.
The recommended academic plan blends general education requirements with options for areas of concentration to ensure students get the most out of their certificate or degree.
About the Program
The dental hygiene program is a two-year, full-time program that begins each fall and is designed to prepare students for licensure and employment in the state of Missouri. The program includes a general education component as well as a concentration in dental hygiene. Graduates of this program may transfer to a four-year college or university to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree. Acceptance of credits earned is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Students in this program receive real life hands-on experience at the public dental hygiene clinic at the Forest Park campus. The learning environment includes classroom work, laboratory experience and actual clinical practice. While enrolled in this program, students will learn how to conduct patient assessments, perform dental diagnostic tests including radiographs, administer local anesthesia, instruct patients in dental disease control procedures, scaling and polishing procedures for the removal of hard and soft deposits, dental health procedures and more. Graduates of this program are eligible to sit for the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, Regional Clinical exams, Missouri State Board Jurisprudence exam and are eligible for admission to the Missouri Dental Hygienists’ Association (mdha.org) and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (adha.org).
Requirements and Prerequisites
In order to be admitted into the program, you must meet all of the program requirements. Official transcripts from high school, GED certification, and all other colleges must be mailed to the Registrar’s office (hand-carried and faxed transcripts are not accepted). Upon acceptance to STLCC, students will need to specifically apply to the dental hygiene program. It is highly recommended that students meet with an STLCC dental hygiene program academic advisor to complete an academic plan prior to applying for the program.
- Acceptance into the dental hygiene program has three requirements:
- Cumulative GPA: Students must maintain regular student status and a cumulative 2.5 GPA.
- Science Prerequisite GPA: Four science prerequisite courses must be completed prior to filling out the dental hygiene program application. A minimum of a 3.0 GPA is required for these four science courses: Microbiology (BIO 203); Anatomy & Physiology I (BIO 207); Anatomy & Physiology II (BIO 208); and Fundamentals of Chemistry (CHM 101) with a minimum grade of C or better in each course within five years prior to admission. Science prerequisite courses may be retaken one time for a maximum total of two attempts.
- Observation Hours: Students must complete a total of 20 hours observing dental hygienists in private practice in a minimum of two offices, three preferred. This is to be documented on practice letterhead (date, number of hours spent observing and signature of dentist or dental hygienist). Professional attire is required with no visible tattoos or body piercings; no jeans; only closed-toe shoes.
- Program Notification of Acceptance: Admission acceptance and reservation forms are
mailed twice yearly; fall and spring semesters. Students are notified if they will
start the program the following academic year, or if they are placed on a waitlist.
Placement on the entry list and waitlist are determined by the date and time of application,
which is maintained on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once an application is made,
students are required to inform the program director of any changes to
an address, email or phone number.
- Students entering the program: Prior to starting the program in the fall semester, students will receive a packet of information and directions in March; students are required to complete CPR Basic Life Support (BLS) with an automated external defibrillator (AED) certification, a background check, and a physical exam at their own expense. Students are advised not to do any of this until they receive their packet with specific instructions.
- Students must purchase their own uniforms, equipment, and supplies prior to the start of the program. The program director will distribute a list of specific items with costs at orientation, which takes place in June. Students can expect the cost of the items to be approximately $2,000 for the first semester. Over the next year, approximately another $4,000 in expenses are incurred in addition to books and fees.
- Graduates of the dental hygiene program are eligible to sit for the clinical and national
board exams as well as apply for state licensure. Licensure applications include questions
regarding criminal history, drug addictions and require a Social Security number.
Discovery of relevant criminal history or false information may result in denial of
the student’s application,
conditioned licensure or the filing of disciplinary action against the applicant.
Hands-On Experience in Oral Health Care
The role of a dental hygienist combines the best of many dental health care services. As a licensed oral healthcare professional and member of a dental team, a dental hygienist delivers a wide range of services under the general supervision of a dentist. Through classroom work, laboratory and clinical experience in the on-campus public dental hygiene clinic, students learn to conduct patient assessments, assess medical and dental histories, perform diagnostic tests and examinations, instruct patients in preventive dental health practices, perform various dental procedures, and design and implement community and school health programs. Students should be interested in biology and health sciences and possess good hand/eye coordination. Exceptional communication skills and attention to detail are necessary. If you are seeking a profession that provides oral healthcare services, and you enjoy working with a diverse population in a clinical setting, then this may be the career path for you.
Graduates of this program are eligible to sit for the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, regional clinical board exams, Missouri State Jurisprudence exam and apply for licensure in any of the 50 states. Graduates are also eligible for admission to the Missouri Dental Hygienists' Association (MDHA.org) and the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA.org).
Opportunities in the Field
Employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Graduates are qualified for positions as dental hygienists and may serve as clinical practitioners in general or specialty dental practice, educators, researchers, administrators, managers, program developers, consultants or dental product sales representatives.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a dental hygienist is $72,910 in 2016. Individual salaries vary by the geographic location, the extent of the dental hygienist’s education, experience and the type and size of the dental practice.
Students should be interested in biology and health sciences and possess good hand/eye coordination skills. Exceptional organization and communication skills and an attention to detail are necessary. Students seeking a profession that provides a variety of duties and enjoy working with a diverse population in an office setting, may be interested in this career path.
Faculty members include registered dental hygienists and dentists licensed in Missouri as well as others with expertise in particular specialties.
Hands on Learning
The dental hygiene program uses a three-pronged approach to education. The teaching environment covers classroom work, laboratory experience and actual clinical practice. Students in this program receive real life hands-on experience at the public dental hygiene clinic at the Forest Park campus.
Students have access to hands-on-experience at the public dental hygiene clinic on the Forest Park campus. STLCC has a fully equipped, 20-chair, dental hygiene clinic with four x-ray rooms equipped with four intraoral x-ray units and one panoramic unit, all which utilize digital radiography.
Dental professionals may be at risk for exposure to numerous workplace hazards. These hazards include but are not limited to the spectrum of blood borne pathogens, pharmaceuticals and other chemical agents, human factors, ergonomic hazards, noise, vibration and workplace violence. Read more about this risk.
If you would like a PDF of the information on this page please download the Dental Hygiene program information sheet.
Hours for all campuses: Monday–Thursday 8 a.m.–7 p.m., Friday 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.