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Best Online Degrees in: Dental Hygiene

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Editor's Picks: Online Schools for Dental Hygiene

The Oregon Institute of Technology is the winner of the best dental hygienist bachelor's degree for value. According to, in-state students see a return on vestment of 8.7% without financial aid and 9.6% with financial aid. Out-of-state students see a 7.3% return on investment. In addition to making up tuition over time, Oregon Institute of Technology is also No. 3 in U.S. News & World Report‘s ranking of top public regional colleges in the west.

Pennsylvania College of Technology wins the award for best flexibility, as the college is dedicated to helping students work school around their schedule, rather than having school come between work and the other obligations students may have. It earned a B-level ranking in flexibility on College Prowler, and also offers online programs for students that cannot fit face-to-face instruction into their schedules.

Career Support
State University of New York (SUNY) at Canton knows that students can benefit from help with the transition from college classes to starting a career. That's why SUNY Canton helps students write resumes, practice etiquette for internships, and even start their own businesses, according to the school website. SUNY Canton has an A- ranking for career services on College Prowler, and is also our winner for the best online dental hygienist bachelor's degree for career support.

Financial Support
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the University of Bridgeport awards 98% of first-time, full-time students with some form of financial aid. A hefty 91% of all undergraduates receive a grant or a scholarship. Due to the dedication that the University of Bridgeport has to helping students pay for tuition, it is the winner of the best dental hygiene bachelor's degree for financial support.

Technology Support
East Tennessee State University offers multiple options for technology support, according to U.S. News & World Report, where it is ranked No. 8 in student services and technology. It provides live tutoring and video streaming, as well as a smartphone app and a student help desk that is available with extended and weekend hours, according to the school website. Students can contact the help desk via phone or email. As East Tennessee University is dedicated to providing technology that supports students learning and engagement, it is our winner of the best online bachelor's degree in dental hygiene for technology support.

Student Engagement
East Tennessee State University wants students to be engaged in learning, and that's why it offers so many options for student support, including a smartphone app that students can use to access the school when on-the-go. In addition, faculty members hold weekly office hours and track student sign-ins to the online class system, according U.S. News & World Report, both of which motivate students to take an active participatory role in their education. East Tennessee State University is therefore our winner for the best online dental hygienist bachelor's degree for student engagement.

Disability Support
All colleges and universities must provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. However, some colleges go above and beyond merely providing services. The University of Bridgeport is one such college. With a policy that protects the confidentiality of its students, the University of Bridgeport provides adaptive technology, psycho-educational testing, and informative resources, all of which can be accessed on its website. The University of Bridgeport is therefore the winner of the award for best disability support.

Library and Research Support
Minnesota State University receives the award for best library and research support, as it has a thorough library website that both traditional and online students can use. The website has subject guides, access to multiple research journals, and 24-hour library support through email and chat. The library also provides interlibrary loans and disability support.

Learning Support
East Tennessee University was ranked No. 8 on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the best schools for student services and technology. The university provides live tutoring, video streaming, and even a smartphone app. In addition, East Tennessee University also provides health services and academic advising. It therefore wins our award for best online dental hygienist bachelor's degree for learning support.

Faculty Credentials
Though the University of Bridgeport was No. 30 on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the top schools for faculty credentials and training, and is our winner for best online dental hygienist bachelor's degree for faculty credentials. At the University of Bridgeport, 85% of online instructors have at least two years of online teaching experience. In addition, all online instructors must receive training in teaching classes over the Internet, which the University of Bridgeport funds.

Faculty Accessibility
East Tennessee State University wins the award for best faculty accessibility. According to U.S. News & World Report, East Tennessee State University instructors hold four office hours every week and have an email response rate of 24 hours or less. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that East Tennessee University has small class sizes as well, which keeps instructors free to focus on individual student needs.

Alumni Engagement
Ranked on College Prowler as No. 12 for strongest alumni network, Northern Arizona University is our winner for the best online bachelor's degree in dental hygiene for alumni engagement. Northern Arizona University's alumni office provides graduates with the opportunity to network with each other, participate in alumni events, and have access to career services. Alumni are also provided with retail discounts.

Prior Learning Options
State University of New York (SUNY) at Canton offers students multiple options for college credit, and is therefore the winner of best online dental hygienist degree for prior learning options. According to SUNY Canton's prior learning policy, students can transfer credits from other colleges and universities, get credit for military training, and even get their life experiences considered for college credit.

New Online Student Orientation
Texas Women's University understands the importance of new online student orientation, and therefore provides students with a virtual version of their student orientation. The orientation program teaches students about academics and financial aid, as well as the extracurricular activities that are available to them. Student can also take placement tests during the orientation program.

Explore a Bachelor's Degree in Dental Hygiene

A bachelor's degree in dental hygiene will teach students how to keep their pearly whites just that—white. Students will learn about preventative care for teeth and gums, as well as how to treat decay, disease, and other oral injuries. Dental hygienists-in-training will also learn how to educate others about oral hygiene within a dental health care setting. Their responsibilities will include taking and developing dental X-rays; applying sealants and fluorides to teeth; and removing tartar, stains, and plaque. Aside from this, students will learn about dental care laws and how to manage patients safely. A bachelor's degree in dental hygiene requires students to complete 120-150 credit hours, but specifications will vary by program.

Class Curriculum

In a dental hygiene program, students will learn how the human body works by taking classes in anatomy, physiology, and pathology. Students will also examine the importance of prevention in dental health care by learning about how nutrition affects overall well-being. Students will take classes in oral histology, dental radiology, periodontics, dental law and ethics, and patient management. Major courses include:

  • Dental Hygiene. Students may take several classes in dental hygiene. Introductory level classes will teach students the fundamental concepts and techniques in disease control, as well as how to use dental equipment. Eventually, students will gain practical experience in the clinic by practicing the techniques to perform comprehensive dental hygiene services.
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology. This course will cover the structure and the function of the human body. Students will learn about the skeletal, muscular, endocrine, and reproductive systems.
  • Microbiology. This course provides an overview of the biology of viruses and microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. Students will learn about the natural and applied roles of these microorganisms.

Students will demonstrate competency by participating in class discussions and taking written exams. Students will also complete laboratory work and intern at dental offices.

Building a Career

A certificate or an associate degree in dental hygiene is generally required to work in private dental offices. Individuals who hold a bachelor's degree are additionally qualified to research, teach, or practice in public or school health programs. However, to become a dental hygienist all students must pass a national written exam and fulfill any state certification requirements.

The median annual wage of dental hygienists was $68,250, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job outlook for dental hygienists is promising, as employment rates are expected to grow by 38%, in correlation with the growing demand for preventative dental services. However, individuals should note that BLS estimates are not guaranteed and that salary will depend on the individual's level of education and experience, among other factors.