Dental hygiene is an exciting profession with many rewarding and challenging career opportunities that include clinical/patient care, administration, education, research and sales/marketing. Dental hygienists are employed in diverse settings such as private dental practices, clinics, hospitals, geriatric and special needs homes, correctional facilities, public heath departments, school systems, allied dental education programs, national, state and local government agencies, and private/business industry.
As a licensed health professional and oral health educator, the dental hygienist has an important role in the overall health and welfare of the public. The dental hygienist is an integral part of the dental team, providing direct patient care based on the prevention of disease. The duties and responsibilities of dental hygienists vary from state to state, but may include oral prophylaxis (removing stains and deposits from teeth), root debridement, exposing radiographs, application of preventive and therapeutic agents, local delivery of antimicrobial agents, nutritional counseling, oral, head and neck cancer screenings, and administration of local anesthesia and nitrous oxide sedation.
The educational background of a dental hygienist provides the knowledge, attitudes and skill necessary to be successful in a wide variety of careers. From research to clinician to public administration, dental hygiene opens the door to many successful career options.
After graduation, career opportunities include, but are not limited to, positions in a private dental practice, research, industry, hospitals, public schools, departments of health, institutions of higher learning, federal service and health care centers.
Sample Course Schedules
Wondering what your typical day might be like? We used students’ real course schedules to create these examples.
Freshman YearDTHY 101 Introduction to Dental Hygiene MATH 126A College Algebra 5-Day CHEM 111 Survey of Chemistry ENGL 101 Composition and Rhetoric COMM 102 Human Communication in the Interpersonal Context
Senior YearDTHY 350 Public Health PATH 300 Introduction to Pathology DTHY 366 Technical Expression and Dental Literature DTHY 372 Clinical Dental Hygiene 1 DTHY 370 Dental Hygiene Clinical Methods
English Proficiency Requirements
All applicants whose first language is not English must provide proof of English language proficiency. WVU accepts either the TOEFL or the IELTS for this purpose. Learn more about our English language proficiency requirements.
WVU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The WVU Dental Hygiene Program is fully accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation.
It runs in the family—Laura Aliff is a 1982 dental hygiene graduate and has served as the president of the School of Dentistry Alumni Association. Laura’s daughter, Natalie Aliff, also attended WVU as a public relations major. Laura’s father, Frank Stevens, was a 1963 WVU Dental School graduate, served as assistant dean for the School of Dentistry and was a public address announcer for Mountaineer sports for over 40 years. Another daughter, Stacie, studied elementary education.
Bobbi Jo Steele-Muto
"My degree from WVU allowed me the opportunity to have a career that I love. I am even more excited that I will be able to earn my master's in public health from the school I love as well. Practicing public health dental hygiene is extremely rewarding. Although I am employed at the Marshall University School of Medicine, my husband Mike (WVU B.A. liberal arts 1991, WVU Dentistry Class of 2001) and our three children Nick, Joseph and Gianna bleed gold and blue."
A native of New Manchester, W.Va., Jordann Mitchell was a member of the WVU women's track team for four years. She was a Big East Conference Academic All-Star, and was a member of the Athletic Director’s Academic Honor Roll. She participated in the West Virginia Rural Health Education Partnerships, spending six weeks training with a practitioner in rural West Virginia. Mitchell graduated in spring of 2012.