Dental Hygiene Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene

About us

The Division of Dental Hygiene at The Ohio State University has the only dental hygiene program in Ohio that is housed within a dental school.

The Entry Level Dental Hygiene Program provides a unique opportunity to prepare for an exciting profession while also completing a baccalaureate degree at a nationally recognized university. This four year program includes basic sciences and general education courses followed by the professional training required to prepare students to practice dental hygiene. In addition to preparation for licensure in dental hygiene, the baccalaureate program prepares students for roles of leadership and responsibility in a variety of health care settings.

Consider a career in dental hygiene. A dental hygienist is a preventive oral health professional who is licensed in dental hygiene. A dental hygienist provides education, clinical, and therapeutic services supporting total health through the promotion of oral health. The dental hygienist works with the dental team in the prevention and control of dental disease. Various practice settings provide diverse experiences for a licensed dental hygienist.

A dental hygienist may work in such practice settings as:

  • Private dental offices and dental clinical
  • Federal, state, and local health departments
  • Hospitals and nursing homes
  • School districts or departments of education
  • Educational programs for dental hygiene and dental assisting students
  • Private business and industry
  • Correctional facilities
  • Private and public centers for pediatric, geriatric, and other individuals and groups
  • Health Maintenance Organizations

Although legal dental hygiene functions vary from state to state, some of the functions routinely performed by a dental hygienist include, but are not limited to:

  • Monitoring of patient's health history, including blood pressure
  • Thorough examination of the teeth and oral structures, including a soft tissue exam
  • Removal of calculus, stain, and plaque from above and below the gumline
  • Application of caries preventive agents such fluorides and sealants
  • Plaque control instructions and development of individualized oral hygiene programs for home care
  • Dietary analysis and counseling
  • Exposure, processing, and interpretation of dental x-rays
  • Placement of temporary fillings and periodontal dressings, removal of sutures, and polishing and recontouring amalgam fillings
  • Educating the individual patient, the general public, and special population groups about the importance of good oral hygiene habits
  • Oral cancer and blood pressure screening
  • Designing and implementing community dental hygiene programs
  • Placing and carving of filling materials (expanded functions)

For more information about career opportunities in dental hygiene, visit the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) career information page.

Rewards of Practice

The dental hygienist gains recognition as a health professional who is part of a cooperating team, working to serve the public by satisfying the need for dental service and education.

Salary and benefits vary with employment settings, geographic location, and the dental hygienist's training and experience. In general, the hourly wage in Ohio is approximately $20–$30. Most employers also offer additional benefits such as health insurance and paid vacations. The availability of full-time and part-time employment opportunities and flexible work hours are also advantages of the profession.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental hygiene is one of the 20 fastest growing occupations.


Dental hygienists must be licensed by the state in which they practice. Licensure requirements vary by state. In general, dental hygienists must graduate from an accredited dental hygiene program and earn passing scores on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and state or regional examinations. 

Visit the Ohio State Dental Board web site for more information about licensing in the State of Ohio.