Dental Hygiene

Associate of Applied Science Degree

A dental hygienist is a vital member of a team of dental professionals dedicated to improving oral health and supporting the general health of individuals and groups. As licensed professionals, dental hygienists provide educational, clinical, and therapeutic services and may be involved in research, administration, client/patient advocacy, marketing or consulting. Dental hygienists may practice in a variety of settings such as private dental offices, public health facilities, schools, nursing homes and hospitals. They may also work in correctional facilities, business and industry and other settings.

Dental hygienists in a clinical setting perform oral and general health assessments and provide oral health instruction, as well as counseling regarding nutrition and healthy lifestyle and their impact on oral and general health. Dental hygienists take and interpret radiographs and provide many types of preventive services such as removing deposits from teeth, applying fluoride, placing sealants and more. Infection control and emergency management are also important functions. In New Mexico and other states, dental hygienists may be certified to provide local anesthesia.

Dental hygienists enjoy working with people, have good manual dexterity and enjoy working with their hands. They possess the maturity and critical thinking skills to provide current, quality, professional care. They have strong interpersonal skills to motivate and educate patients of all ages. Dental hygienists are lifelong learners and are dedicated to continuing education, enhancing the profession and practicing ethical decision-making and behavior.

Dental hygienists are generally well paid and are respected professionals in their communities. Job opportunities in the field are expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2022. Graduation from this program qualifies students to take national and state examinations to become licensed dental hygienists anywhere in the country, and there are international employment opportunities for dental hygienists educated in the U.S.

Students wishing to pursue a Bachelor’s degree should consult with an advisor regarding transferability of courses in the prerequisite list as well as the dental hygiene curriculum.

Required Skills and Abilities

Students will need to demonstrate good oral expression (speech clarity) and written comprehension in English, critical thinking skills, near vision, and physical stamina (e.g., the ability to sit for long periods of time and move about freely), as well as the ability to manipulate dental/medical equipment, move/lift equipment up to 30 pounds without assistance, and perform patient care procedures with manual precision.

Program Admission Special Requirements

This is a limited entry program. Successful candidates generally have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Student faculty ratio in the clinical setting is 1-to-6 thus allowing for individualized instruction. All science courses must be taken within 5 years before admission to the program.

Program Prerequisites

General education and related classes are required prior to applying to the Dental Hygiene Program and are identical to those offered at New Mexico State University Las Cruces (main) Campus (29 credits):

ENGL 111GRhetoric and Composition 14
MATH 120Intermediate Algebra (OR higher-level math) 13
BIOL 225Human Anatomy and Physiology I 14
BIOL 226Human Anatomy and Physiology II 14
CHEM 110GPrinciples and Applications of Chemistry 14
CHEM 210Chemistry for the Allied Health Sciences 13
BIOL 221
221 L
Introductory Microbiology
and Introductory Microbiology Laboratory 1
4
HNDS 251Human Nutrition 13
Total Credits29
1

 Courses are identical to those offered at New Mexico State University Las Cruces (main) Campus.

Course Fees

In addition to tuition, a fee of $400 is charged for each of the following courses:

DHYG 122Clinical Dental Hygiene I3
DHYG 132Clinical Dental Hygiene II2
DHYG 212Clinical Dental Hygiene III4
DHYG 222Clinical Dental Hygiene IV4

DHYG 110. Preclinical Dental Hygiene

3 Credits

Basic scientific principles and current theory, prevention of disease transmission, ethical and professional treatment of patients, clinical learning preparation, and introduction to comprehensive patient care. Offered concurrently with DHYG 112 to provide dental hygiene students with introductory knowledge, skills and attitudes to function in the clinical setting. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 112. Preclinical Dental Hygiene Lab

3 Credits

Clinical application to basic theories and procedures used in dental hygiene practice. Techniques of instrumentation used in performing diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic services utilized when providing comprehensive patient care. Student will practice these techniques on manikins and student partners in the clinic. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 114. Oral Histology and Embryology

2 Credits

Introduction and description of general histology and embryology with emphasis on the microscopic structures of enamel, dentin, pulp, cementum, periodontal ligament, bone, oral mucosa, epithelial attachment and development of orofacial structures. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 116. Head and Neck Anatomy

3 Credits

Comprehensive study of the anatomy of the head and neck regions, including skeletal, nervous, circulatory, lymphatic, and muscular systems. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 117. Dental Anatomy

2 Credits (2+1P)

A detailed study of nomenclature, morphologic characteristics, and physiologic relationships of human primary and permanent teeth as related to the clinical practice of dental hygiene. Laboratory activities develop observation and dexterity skills. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 118. Dental Radiology

3 Credits (3+4P)

Study of radiation physics, hygiene and safety theories. Fundamentals of oral radiographic techniques and interpretation of radiographs. Includes exposure of intra-oral radiographs, quality assurance, radiographic interpretation, patient selection criteria, ancillary radiographic techniques and application to dental hygiene treatment. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 120. Dental Hygiene Theory I

3 Credits

Continuation of the theoretical basis for dental hygiene clinical practice. Emphasis on emergency care, planning dental hygiene care, health promotion and disease prevention, oral rehabilitation and care of appliances, modifications of dental hygiene care through the life-span, and an introduction to medically comprised patients. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 122. Clinical Dental Hygiene I

3 Credits

Application of dental hygiene procedures on a variety of clinical patients under direct supervision of faculty. Emphasis on patient assessment and diagnosis, treatment procedures, appointment planning and prevention techniques. Theory is simultaneously related to practical experience. Offered concurrently with DHYG 120. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 124. General and Oral Pathology

3 Credits

Introduction to general pathology with focused study of diseases and disorders of the oral cavity and their interrelationship with body systems; developmental anomalies of the teeth and jaws; manifestations of disease in the oral cavity, head and neck. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 126. Periodontology

3 Credits

Study of normal and diseased periodontium to include the structural, functional and environmental factors. Emphasis on etiology, pathology, evaluation of disease, treatment modalities, and therapeutic and preventative periodontics relative to the hygienist's role as a co-therapist in a contemporary practice setting. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 132. Clinical Dental Hygiene II

2 Credits

Continuation of clinical skills, patient assessment and diagnosis, treatment and appointment planning, preventive techniques and application of dental hygiene procedures at an intermediate level under the direct supervision of faculty. Clinical-based instruction helps students synthesize new knowledge, apply previous knowledge, and gain experience managing the workflow. Theory is simultaneously related to practical experience. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

Prerequisite(s): "C" or above in DHYG 120, DHYG 122, DHYG 124, DHYG 126, DHYG 134.

Corequisite(s): DHYG 218.

DHYG 134. Dental Materials

3 Credits (2+2P)

Study of the composition, chemical and physical properties, manipulations, and uses of dental materials. Emphasis on materials and procedures for which the dental hygienist is directly responsible. Laboratory experiences include application and manipulation of various materials used in dentistry. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 210. Dental Hygiene Theory III

2 Credits

Advanced theory of dental hygiene and information on periodontal therapies relative to the hygienist's role as a co-therapist in clinical practice. Continuation of the study of dental hygiene care for medically comprised patients and an introduction to special needs patients. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 212. Clinical Dental Hygiene III

4 Credits

Continuation of clinical skills, patient assessment and diagnosis, treatment and appointment planning, preventive techniques and applications of dental hygiene procedures at the intermediate to competent level under supervision of faculty. Emphasis on dental hygiene treatment for the medically compromised and periodontally involved patients. Theory is simultaneously related to practical experience. Offered concurrently with DHYG 210. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 214. Dental Pharmacology

3 Credits

Study of the pharmacologic aspects of drugs and drug groups with which the dentist and dental hygienist are directly and indirectly concerned. Emphasis is placed on nomenclature, origin, physical and chemical properties, preparation, modes of administration and effects of drugs upon the body systems. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 215. Medical and Dental Emergencies

2 Credits

This course provides an overview of medical and dental emergencies encountered most frequently in the dental setting. It also provides the student with knowledge and techniques on how to address those emergencies should they occur. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 217. Research Methodology

2 Credits

This course provides an introduction to the principles and application of research methods in social, behavioral and medical research. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 218. Pain and Anxiety Management

2 Credits

Study of the application of various physical, chemical, and psychological modalities to the prevention and treatment of preoperative and postoperative patient anxiety and pain. Emphasis on administration of local anesthesia and nitrous oxide. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 219. Pain and Anxiety Management Clinical

1 Credit

Clinical application of concepts learned in DHYG 218. Emphasis on the administration and techniques of local anesthesia and monitoring nitrous oxide. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

Prerequisite(s): DHYG 218.

DHYG 220. Dental Hygiene Theory IV

3 Credits

Theoretical preparation for advanced clinical practice. In-depth study of dental hygiene care for patients with special needs. Case Study presentations and a Board Review are utilized to demonstrate the synthesis of comprehensive dental hygiene knowledge, skills and attitudes. The most current dental and dental hygiene technology will be reviewed as it related to clinical practice. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 222. Clinical Dental Hygiene IV

4 Credits

Clinical sessions combine basic and advanced dental hygiene skills with time management techniques essential for private practice. Comprehensive patient care to include assessment, dental hygiene diagnosis, treatment planning, implementation and evaluation of dental care, nonsurgical periodontal therapy, adjunct clinical procedures, ultrasonic instrumentation, patient management, sealants, and comprehensive programs for control of oral diseases will be emphasized. Theory is simultaneously related to practical experience. Students are encouraged to develop independent decision-making with minimal faculty supervision. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 224. Principles of Practice

2 Credits

Examination of the dental hygienist's role in both traditional and non-traditional employment settings. Career planning, resume preparation and interviewing are practices. An understanding of the law, professional ethics of dental hygiene and the need for lifelong learning are emphasized. Future roles of the dental hygienist and emerging issues in dental hygiene will be explored. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 225. Dental Public Health Education

3 Credits

Study of principles and concepts of community public health and dental health education. Emphasis on dental epidemiology and statistical methods, community assessment, educational planning, implementation, and evaluation, scientific review of literature, and classroom presentation. Restricted to: DHYG majors. Restricted to Community Colleges campuses only.

DHYG 255. Special Topics in Dental Hygiene

1-6 Credits (1-6)

Study of special topics related to the advanced practice of dental hygiene. May include educational methodology as well as applications in clinical practice, research, or community service. Consent of instructor required. Restricted to: Community Colleges only. Restricted to DHYG majors.

Name: Elmer Gonzalez, Program Director

Office Location: DASH 98C

Phone: (575) 528-7216

Website: https://dacc.nmsu.edu/dhyg/