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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Dental Hygiene

Explore a Master’s Degree in Dental Hygiene

A master’s degree in dental hygiene prepares graduate students for teaching in dental education, administrative, research, and management in the dental profession. Course work involves dentistry, public health, and education, including clinical and laboratory teaching. While dental hygienists may only require education up to an associate’s degree level, a master’s degree as a dental hygienists may also help advance toward managerial positions.

Class Curriculum

A bachelor’s degree in a science like biology, chemistry, or a related field may increase your chances of being accepted to a dental program or a graduate program in dental hygiene, but most programs do not require a specific major. A master’s degree in dental hygiene may require course work in clinical and laboratory teaching, research methods, biostatistics, research methods, clinical management, and intraoral functions. Further course work may be required in dental radiology, oral pathology, biological sciences, and clinical education. Dental students will also take classes in anesthesia, anatomy, periodontology, and radiology.

  • Biostatistics. Biostatistics in dentistry covers statistical methods in dentistry, including descriptive and inferential statistics. Students learn analysis for discrete, continuous, and right-censored random variables, and may be introduced to regression with correlated outcome data.
  • Oral Pathology. Oral pathology covers the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions. Students learn to research and diagnose diseases through clinical, radiographic, microscopic, and biochemical examinations.
  • Dental Radiology. Dental radiology teaches the use of x-ray equipment and procedures, including safety precautions, paralleling techniques, and interpretation. Students also learn the history and development of radiology, the biological effects of exposure, and extra oral techniques.

A master’s degree in dental hygiene will usually require a thesis project that runs throughout the degree program. Students will also be required to participate in laboratory work and research, read current reports and research in dental hygiene, and complete assignments like problem sets and essays corresponding with course lecture.

Building a Career

Most master’s degree programs in dental hygiene prepare graduate students to be educators, researchers, or managers in allied dental health or education. Work as a dental hygienist does not require a master’s degree, and may only require education up to an associate degree level. Dental hygienists clean and examine patients for oral disease, and educate patients on maintaining oral health. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that dental hygienists had a median pay of $68,250 per year in May 2010. Employment for dental hygienists is expected to increase by 38% between 2010 and 2020.

Dentists require a bachelor’s degree to enter dental school. After dental school, should they want to teach or research full time, they will usually be required to spend an additional two to five years in advanced dental training. They require licensure obtained through the state, which usually requires a degree from an accredited dental school. The BLS reports that the annual wage for dentists was $146,920 in May 2010. Employment for dentists is expected to increase by 21% between 2010 and 2020. Keep in mind that employment and wages depend on factors like experience, employer, position and area. Also, a master’s degree in dental hygiene is usually preparation for educational or research positions in allied dental education.

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