Dental Hygiene

Dental Hygienist

In 2016 and 2017, 100% of the graduates of Harper’s Dental Hygiene Program passed both the American Dental Association’s National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and the Commission on Dental Competency Assessment’s Clinical Board Examination.

The more you learn, the more you earn.

  • U. S. News and World Report rates the profession of dental hygienist #2 in Best Health Care Support Jobs and #32 in the 100 Best Jobs.
  • According to the Occupational Outlook the 2016 Median Salary was $72,910 per year and $35.05 per hour.

Prepare for immediate entry into this career field.

Harper's Dental Hygiene Program is a full-time, five semester career program leading to an Associate in Applied Science degree. It is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association. This is a limited enrollment program. 


The 81 credit Dental Hygiene program curriculum culminates in an Associate of Applied Science Degree.

The dental hygiene curriculum is sequenced over five-semesters. Students complete one fall and spring semester (17 weeks each) in the first year and one eight-week summer session and one fall and spring semester (17 weeks each) in the second year with graduation in May.

Courses in dental hygiene, i.e., course numbers with the DHY prefix must be taken in the semester sequence published in the Catalog. SPE 101 and SOC 101 can be taken before they are scheduled in the curriculum but not after. The curriculum is listed in the College Catalog.


Dental Hygiene classes, labs and clinics are scheduled Monday-Friday, 8:00 am-7: 30 pm and occasional Saturdays or evenings. General education or science classes are sometimes scheduled in the evenings as well.

Download Program Highlights and Accreditation .PDF which includes

Accreditation: The Dental Hygiene Program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted the accreditation status of approval without reporting requirements until the next accreditation site visit in 2021. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at 312-440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60611-2678.

Commission on Dental Accreditation’s Complaint Policy
The Commission on Dental Accreditation will review complaints that relate to a program's compliance with the accreditation standards. The Commission is interested in the sustained quality and continued improvement of dental and dental- related education programs but does not intervene on behalf of individuals or act as a court of appeal for treatment received by patients or individuals in matters of admission, appointment, promotion or dismissal of faculty, staff or students.

A copy of the appropriate accreditation standards and/or the Commission's policy and procedure for submission of complaints may be obtained by contacting the Commission at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611-2678 or by calling 1-800- 621-8099 extension 4653.


The Dental Hygiene program at Harper College has defined the knowledge, skills, and values required for entry in the profession of dental hygiene. This document, Competencies for the Entry-Level Dental Hygienist organizes the knowledge, skills and values that the graduate must acquire to become a competent entry-level dental hygiene practitioner. The competencies address patient care, professional service, life- long learning, and scientific inquiry.

These competencies serve to define the core content of the curriculum, thereby establishing the basis for content of all courses, guiding decisions regarding course content depth and breadth, curriculum sequencing, and the use of meaningful pedagogy and educational methodologies.

These competencies are used to assess the degree to which students can meet or exceed the defined standards of dental hygiene patient care. Students must demonstrate achievement of these competencies in order to graduate from the Dental Hygiene program.

These competencies must be responsive to the changing needs of the professional environment so it is recognized that this document will require ongoing review to continual improvement and ensure relevancy.

Organization of the Competencies

The model depicts three competency domains representing broad categories of the dental hygiene care process. The concept of domains is intended to encourage an interdisciplinary structure and process in the dental hygiene curriculum. Competencies are listed from the general to specific.


Professionalism and Ethics: Professionalism and Ethics encompass all aspects of dental hygiene care. This includes ethics, values, skill, knowledge integral to all aspects of dental hygiene care and the ability for self-evaluation. A dental hygienist must possess transferable skills in communication, problem-solving, self-evaluation and critical thinking. The competent dental hygiene practitioner provides skilled care using the highest professional knowledge, judgment, and ability. This skilled care should be based on contemporary knowledge, and the practitioner should be capable of discerning and managing ethical issues and problems in the practice of dental hygiene.

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention: Changes within the health-care environment require the dental hygienist to have a general knowledge of wellness, health determinants, and characteristics of various patient/patient communities. The hygienist must focus on disease prevention and evaluation measures to ensure effective health care delivery. The dental hygienist plays an active role in the promotion of optimal oral health and its relationship to general health and, therefore, must be competent in the performance and delivery of oral health promotion and disease prevention services in the public health, private practice, and alternative settings.

Patient Care: The dental hygienist is a licensed preventive oral health professional who provides educational and clinical services in the support of optimal oral health. The dental hygiene process of care applies principles from the biomedical, clinical, and social sciences to diverse populations that may include the medically compromised, mentally or physically challenged, or socially or culturally disadvantaged.

Because the dental hygienist’s role in patient/patient care is ever changing, yet central to the maintenance of health, dental hygiene graduates must use their skills in a comprehensive way to assess, systematically collecting and integrating data on the general and oral health status of the patient; to diagnosis, i.e., provide a dental hygiene diagnosis which analyzes the patient’s general and oral health status, is complimentary with the diagnosis of dentists and other health care professionals, and assesses its relationship to dental hygiene care and oral health status. The dental hygienist must plan which includes identification of goals, treatment procedures, priorities and patient involvement to facilitate optimal oral health, implement the plan including the delivery of care, and provide education to assist the patient in achieving oral health goals with ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the comprehensive care plan.



Students who successfully complete this program are able to

Patient Care

  1. utilize the dental hygiene process of care in provision of comprehensive, quality patient care.

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

  1. provide individualized patient educational services to promote health maintenance and disease prevention.
  2. individually and/or in collaboration with health care professionals, apply the dental hygiene process of care in planning and providing oral health related programs to the public.

Professionalism and Ethics

  1. use evidence-based research to critically evaluate the validity of foundational knowledge, information, products and/or techniques and their relevance to the practice of dental hygiene.
  2. apply principles of ethical reasoning, ethical decision making, and critical thinking as they pertain to the academic environment, research, patient care and dental hygiene practice, and demonstrate professional responsibility as it applies to the legal and regulatory concepts in the provision and/or support of oral health care services.
  3. perform self-assessment, monitor knowledge and performance, and take corrective action to address deficiencies.
  4. demonstrate cultural sensitivity and the interpersonal and communication skills required for effective functioning with diverse population groups and other members of the health care team.
  5. demonstrate professional growth by participating in professional activities and continuing education.

Download Important Factors .PDF which includes:

  • Academic Standards and Progression through the Program
  • Accommodations and Disabilities
  • Employment While a Student
  • Functional Abilities/Essential Functions for the Dental Hygienist
  • Occupational Risks
    • Blood Borne Pathogen Policy
    • Risk of Exposure to Infectious Illness
    • Infectious Disease Carrier Status
    • Training in Infection Control and Radiographic Procedures
    • Cumulative Repetitive Trauma / Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Latex Allergy or Sensitivity
  • Professional Behavior and Ethical Conduct

Download Estimated Program Expenses .PDF which includes:

  • Tuition, Fees and Payment Methods
  • Scholarships, Grants and Financial Aid
  • Registration and Payment Dates
  • Registration Policies-Chargebacks, Refunds, Withdrawals

Download Program Participation Requirements .PDF which includes:

  • Immunization and Testing Policy
  • Health Requirements
  • Basic Life Support Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification
  • Criminal Background Investigation
  • Photo ID
  • Board Examinations

Skill Development and Successful Progression through the Program .PDF which includes:

  • Educational Format for Development of Dental Hygiene Clinical Skills
  • Patient Recruitment

To be eligible for graduation with an associate in applied science degree in dental hygiene a student must:

  • satisfy requirements for an Associate in Applied Science degree as outlined in the Catalog.

  • attain a minimum GPA of 2.0 with a grade of C or better for the courses in the dental hygiene curriculum.

  • complete the Dental Hygiene program outcomes listed in this document.

  • abide by specific program policies as outlined in the Dental Hygiene Student Handbook.

These skills sets may be needed to experience a successful employment experience. Download Workplace Success Skills .PDF

Do you have what it takes to succeed in this career? Download Self Assessment Questionnaire .PDF

The Dental Hygiene Clinic simulates a real-world working environment for the dental hygiene student. The Clinic is equipped with dental hygiene stations, X-ray and sterilization rooms.

Students practice their skills on patients who come to the clinic for dental care. Student perform all of their clinical work here and when completed they can begin work at dental offices.

Transfer Options


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