Dental Hygiene

Dental Hygiene

Now is the time to pursue a career in healthcare. To get started, enroll at the college, then complete a program application using the instructions on this page. Program applications are currently being accepted by email only. Admissions Specialists are available to help you by phone or by email. Call 704.330.6284 or 704.330.6958 to schedule your personal phone appointment.

What You Will Learn

As someone interested in dental hygiene, you know the value of a healthy smile is much bigger than appearance — overall dental health can indicate serious, underlying health issues including and beyond your mouth. You are passionate, eager, and patient to educate people about these facts to ensure that their oral hygiene is a priority. As a future dental hygienist, you imagine being professional and personable with your patients; you're likely detail-oriented and easy to talk to. You also recognize the importance of a team dynamic in the workplace. Enroll in the Dental Hygiene program at Central Piedmont and earn an Associate of Applied Science in dental hygiene. 

On a typical day as a dental hygienist, you will:

  • review health histories, assess oral health conditions, provide oral cancer screening, collect and review vital signs, and complete necessary chart entries
  • expose and develop dental radiographs (x-rays)
  • develop and present dental hygiene treatment plans to patients
  • provide periodontal treatment to include removal of hard and soft deposits from the teeth and administration of preventive and therapeutic agents
  • instruct patients on appropriate preventive oral hygiene techniques and nutrition as it relates to oral health
  • make impressions of the teeth and pour study models
  • place temporary fillings, periodontal dressings, and remove oral sutures

The dental hygiene program is a two-year program in which graduates earn an associate degree. On the other hand, the Central Piedmont Dental Assisting program is a one-year diploma program which enables graduates to participate as part of the dental office team. Both programs have a different set of prerequisite requirements. In the professional setting, dental assistants typically work more closely with the dentists with occasional independence while dental hygienists work independently with assistance from the dentist.

In the dental hygiene program (video), you will learn to evaluate patients' oral health, diagnose oral diseases, prepare patient-centered care plans, apply best practices in dentistry, to operate medical technology to diverse populations to complete a variety of routine procedures, and direct patients in need of other health professional assistance. You will learn about the practices of ethics in relation to patient confidentiality and state and national laws. You will also learn important foundational knowledge, such as orofacial anatomy, periodontology, infection control techniques, obtaining patient histories, insurance coding, medical emergency response, and dental health and pharmacology overviews. Upon completion of the program, you will:

  • effectively assess each patient’s oral health status and risk factors and present an appropriate dental hygiene diagnosis and comprehensive patient centered care plan within the scope of dental hygiene practice and based on current scientific evidence
  • demonstrate the clinical skills necessary to provide preventive oral health care and determine periodontal classifications to ethnically diverse populations, medically compromised patients, and those with special needs in an efficient and effective manner, employing appropriate infection control measures
  • demonstrate ethical decision-making skills and adhere to state and federal laws and standards within the profession
  • asses the oral health needs of individual patients and community groups, develop disease prevention and health maintenance strategies utilizing the basic principles of learning, promote the value of oral and general health and directs patients to appropriate resources in the community
  • demonstrate basic skills in insurance coding and operation of practice management software, critically evaluate information and research pertaining to new products and techniques, take part in professional activities, and identify career options within the dental profession

Graduates of the dental hygiene program are eligible for state, national, and regional examinations for licensure to work in private dental offices, public health agencies, state and federal institutions, educational facilities, marketing and sales, and research facilities. The North Carolina Dental Board requires dental hygiene licensure candidates to include a social security number as a part of the licensure application.

Students in the dental hygiene program may be exposed to blood-borne pathogens and infectious diseases through the provision of clinical services. It is for this reason that students are provided instruction on infectious diseases, mechanisms of disease transmission, and infection control procedures to reduce the risk of disease transmission, including those published by national public health agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For more information, please refer to our student OSHA hazardous communication standard (PDF document) and student exposure classification bloodborne pathogens (PDF document) forms.

If you are a community member interested in using our dental clinic services, please visit our dental clinic page.

Review the virtual information session

Why Choose Central Piedmont

You will get valuable, hands-on experience at our Central Campus dental clinic. There, you will offer dentistry services to the community under the supervision of our faculty. It’s a win-win — you dramatically develop your skill sets with clinical experience as you apply your knowledge to give back to the greater Charlotte population. The Central Piedmont dental hygiene program is accredited by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and our graduates have had a 100% pass rate on the dental hygiene National Board Dental Hygiene Examination for the past six years. You will also have the opportunity to participate in the student Dental Hygiene Club

Real World Education

At Central Piedmont, your education goes beyond what you learn in class. We offer numerous opportunities for you to enhance your learning — and to make friends, network, and pursue your passions — through clubs and organizations, sports, events and activities, leadership opportunities, job experience, volunteer experiences, visual and performing arts, and even international experiences.

The Details

  • Program Options

    Earn a dental hygienist Associate Degree in Applied Science. The college catalog details the dental hygiene program options currently available at Central Piedmont as well as program eligibility and course requirements. If you would like information on opportunities to transfer associate degree credit to a four-year institution, please visit the Transfer Resource Center and consult with a counselor to determine which of the accepted general studies courses are more easily transferable and meet the comprehensive articulation agreement.

    Visiting Students

    If you wish to transfer dental hygiene course credit back to your home institution, explore how to enroll at Central Piedmont as a visiting student.

    Corporate and Continuing Education

    Central Piedmont's Corporate and Continuing Education provides non-credit, non-degree courses and programs, including job skills, industry-focused career training, certificates, certifications, professional licensure, and personal enrichment. Day, evening, weekend, and online opportunities are available.

    College and Career Readiness

    If you are looking for programs to gain the knowledge or skills necessary to finish a high school degree or to get a job, visit Central Piedmont's College and Career Readiness.

    College Credit for High School Students

    Visit Career and College Promise to learn about opportunities for high school students to earn college credit at Central Piedmont.

  • Dental Hygiene Program Requirements and Application

    The dental hygiene associate degree requires the completion of 76 credit hours completed full-time in six semesters. The curriculum includes general studies courses as well as program-specific courses. General studies courses can be taken at any time. It is advantageous to take as many general studies courses as possible prior to entering the dental hygiene program. You must complete a chemistry course with a grade of “C” or higher within five years of applying to the program. The chemistry course must be a college course at the level of CHM 121 and 121A or higher (high school chemistry is no longer accepted). You will also meet the eligibility requirements if you are enrolled in an appropriate chemistry course when you turn in your application. You do not need to take a computer class, as discipline-specific software training is incorporated into the curriculum. For detailed information on dental hygiene course and program requirements, visit the Central Piedmont Community College catalog.

    Please note that students in the dental field are at a higher risk than the general population for Hepatitis B. If admitted into the program, it is to your advantage to start the vaccination process for Hepatitis B as soon as you learn of your acceptance. Medical history and documentation forms will be distributed at the orientation following acceptance. Any applicant who is aware that they are carriers of Hepatitis B or C or are HIV positive are required to advise the State Department of Human Resources regarding ability to have patient contact. Students accepted into the dental hygiene program at Central Piedmont Community College will be required to read and sign a bloodborne pathogen Form and OSHA's hazard communication form at the mandatory orientation session for new dental hygiene students.

    All applicants are required to undergo a criminal background check and drug screen per clinical agency and healthcare system requirements. More information on how to complete these requirements will be provided upon acceptance. If you are refused access to clinical experiences because of a positive criminal background check or drug screen, you will be unable to complete the clinical component of the course. Inability to complete the clinical requirements will result in a failure to progress in the program. Under North Carolina law some people with criminal backgrounds may be eligible for an expunction to remove charges or convictions from their record. If you would like to know whether or not you are eligible, contact Central Piedmont's Single Stop at 704.330.2722, ext. 6435 or email to schedule a legal consultation. To learn more about expunctions, explore the NC Justice Center’s guide. In order to participate in clinical education experiences at healthcare facilities, you must also complete a medical exam, drug screen, provide record of immunizations, show proof of medical insurance and carry Central Piedmont's accident insurance. The North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners may request information regarding conviction of a felony and/or misdemeanor and/or current charges on the application for licensure and may decide not to license an individual based on the results of an investigation.

    Dental Hygiene Program Application

    The dental hygiene program has a competitive admissions process due to the large number of applicants. We accept applications between January 1 and February 7 of each year. After reviewing the applications and verifying the scores, the top 25 to 30 applicants are selected to begin the program the following summer semester.

  • Locations

    Central Campus

    Please note that course offerings and availability are subject to change from semester to semester. Always confirm which courses are required to complete this program in the college catalog and confirm where courses are available using Schedule Builder.

  • Course Delivery Methods

    • Classroom/Lab/Clinical
    • Combined (Classroom/Lab/Clinical and Online)

    Please note that course offerings and availability are subject to change from semester to semester. Always confirm which courses are required to complete this program in the college catalog and confirm course delivery methods using Schedule Builder.

  • Dental Hygiene Careers

    Licensure to practice dental hygiene is required to work in any state or jurisdiction in the United States. The dental hygiene program at Central Piedmont prepares graduates to take state, national, and regional examinations for licensure to work in private dental offices, public health agencies, state and federal institutions, educational facilities, marketing and sales, and research facilities. Visit Central Piedmont’s Career Coach or the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for detailed dental hygiene career requirements and opportunities, salary information, and job openings.

  • Costs and Aid

    Central Piedmont provides real-world, affordable, hands-on education and career training. Learn how much it costs to attend Central PiedmontFinancial aid and scholarships are available.

    Dental Hygiene Program Costs

    In addition to regular tuition and fees, there are laboratory fees assigned to courses with a lab/clinical component. Additional costs include textbooks, workbooks, medical fees for a physical exam, and drug screening and immunizations.

    Total estimated program costs (PDF)

    Dental Hygiene Scholarships

    In particular, students interested in the dental hygiene program should consider the following scholarships. Please note that many scholarships are managed by organizations outside of Central Piedmont.

    Community for Online Schools Dental Hygiene Scholarships

  • Related Programs

  • Admitted Students: Find Your Faculty Advisor

    Students at Central Piedmont have a faculty advisor for each program of study offered. Find your faculty advisor based on your last name: