The exact courses that you will take while enrolled in dental hygienist school will vary depending on where you enroll. Some schools have specific requirements for you to be accepted into the program. This may include having a certain score on the SAT or ACT, completing specific classes in high school or in your first year of college, obtaining a minimum grade in certain classes, or maintaining a minimum GPA. If you do have to complete certain classes before you can begin studying to be a dental hygienist, this preliminary coursework may include both general education classes and specific preparatory classes – most likely math and science curriculum. Once you have been accepted into a program, make sure you keep your grades up. This is first and foremost so that you can learn everything you need to and effectively master all material before looking for a job. Other than that, you should also strive for high grades to ensure you don’t get kicked out of the program for poor performance.
There are a few different types of classes you will take during your time in school – general requirements, dental science courses, and dental science electives. Most students start by progressing through the general education requirements before moving on to more specific classes.
General Education Requirements
You may take some of these for college credit while you’re in high school or in your first year of college. Or, you may choose to try to complete them as part of your two year study to be a dental hygienist. Either way, you will need to complete all of the general education requirements in order to graduate with an Associate’s of Applied Science. Not all of these will directly relate to dentistry, so you may wonder why they’re so important. They often include classes like English, Math, a few different Sciences, Communications, History, and Foreign Language. These are classes that virtually everyone enrolled in higher education takes at some point, regardless of major or career path. Completing these classes will help you be successful in every area of your life, including dentistry. For instance, the more proficient you are with all the rules of English, the more intelligent and professional you will sound in your communication with others. And if you learn at least some part of a foreign language, such as Spanish, you will be an asset in a country where many different languages are spoken.
Dental Science Courses
These are classes that are specifically related to being a dental hygienist and are also required. They may include studies related to concepts of community dental health, dental anatomy, dental hygiene, dental materials, dental medicine, and professional ethics. These courses will teach you everything you need to know to successfully perform your duties as a dental hygienist. Because these classes are directly related to your career focus, it is important that you pay close attention to your teachers and study the material extensively.
Depending on your program, you may be required to take electives both directly related to dental science and more general electives. These courses give you the opportunity to build a bit of a specialty if you wish. For example, you could take classes related to geriatric dentistry so you have expert knowledge on how to care for elderly people with oral health problems. Some schools may offer the opportunity for you to do independent study, conduct research, or practice your skills in an internship. These options give you a little bit of flexibility to build the program you desire. If you are required to take general electives, consider grouping them under a specific industry or subject, such as communications or administration. These skills are also attractive to employers and may give you an edge during the hiring process.