The Health Sciences Major may be used as a pre-professional curriculum for students wishing to apply to four-year baccalaureate degree programs in Dental Hygiene. The OU Health Sciences Center College of Dentistry offers a four year B.S. degree in Dental Hygiene.
Students apply to the professional phase of the program at the OU Health Sciences Center after first completing a freshman and sophomore year (or 60 hours) of general education and prerequisite courses.
SWOSU students may choose the Health Sciences Major to complete these 60 hours at SWOSU or obtain their degree in Health Sciences at SWOSU before applying to the Dental Hygiene Program. There are also Dental Hygiene Programs offered at the associate degree level in some community colleges such as Rose State College.
Dental Hygienists work with dentists in the delivery of dental care to patients. Hygienists use their knowledge and clinical skills to provide dental care to patients and their interpersonal skills to motivate and instruct patients on methods to prevent oral disease and maintain oral health.
In addition to working chairs with a general dentist or specialist, Dental Hygienists also may be employed to provide dental hygiene services for patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and public health clinics as well as education and research. The salary of a dental hygienist varies, depending on the responsibilities associated with the position, the geographic location of employment, and the type of practice or other setting in which the hygienist works.
Community college-based Dental Hygiene Programs offer a 2-year associate degree, university based Dental Hygiene Programs such as the one at OU offer baccalaureate degrees. Master's programs also exist. Following completion of the baccalaureate degree, students are then eligible to sit for the national certification exam to become a Registered Dental Hygienist (ARDH). Dental Hygienists are licensed by each state to provide dental hygiene care and patient education.