Graduates of the Dental Hygiene Program are prepared to become credentialed and licensed as a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) after successful completion of the written National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, a regional clinical examination, and application for state licensure. Dental hygienists are oral health professionals who focus on preventing and treating oral diseases-both to protect teeth and gums, and also to protect patients' total health. In addition to treating patients directly, dental hygienists may also work as educators, researchers, and administrators.
Each state has its own specific regulations and the range of services performed by dental hygienists varies from one state to another. As part of dental hygiene services, dental hygienists may:
- perform oral health care assessments that include the review of patients' health history, dental charting, oral cancer screening, and evaluation of gum disease / health
- expose, process, and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays)
- remove biofilm (plaque bacteria, tartar) from above and below the gumline using dental instruments
- apply cavity-preventive agents such as fluorides and sealants to the teeth
- administer topical and/or injectable local anesthetic
- administer and/or monitor nitrous oxide analgesia
- educate patients on proper oral hygiene techniques to maintain healthy teeth and gums
- counsel patients about plaque control and developing individualized at-home oral hygiene programs
- administer smoking cessation programs
- counsel patients on the importance of good nutrition for maintaining optimal oral health.
Current occupational employment and wages data for Dental Hygienists are published by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292021.htm.
The Florida SouthWestern State College Dental Hygiene Program admits students once per year and starts each Fall semester. The curriculum includes a combination of classroom, laboratory, and clinical education experiences. General Education and Program Specific coursework may be taken on various campuses but the Dental Hygiene core courses are only offered on the Lee Campus.
The Florida SouthWestern State College Dental Hygiene program is nationally accredited by the:
Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)
211 E. Chicago, IL 60611-2678
Dental Hygiene has limited enrollment due to the rigorous clinical education requirements for the program. Acceptance to Florida SouthWestern State College does not imply acceptance into the Dental Hygiene program. Each applicant must meet specific criteria which are listed in the admission policies. The Criteria for Admission Policies are available through the program office or through the School of Health Professions office at (239)489-9255. Admission applications are located at www.fsw.edu/academics/programs/asdentalhygiene.
Admission to the program is determined by admissions points, academic transcript evaluation, and affective skills demonstration. Admissions points are awarded for the completion of General Education coursework and prospective students are encouraged to complete as many courses as possible, prior to starting the Dental Hygiene Core coursework. Pre-admission requirements include satisfactory completion of the following:
- College-approved criminal records check and drug testing at the applicant's expense
- A minimum of three (3) General Education courses in the Natural Sciences section
After acceptance, students must complete the following:
- Immunization and health report
- TB Skin Test
- Certification in American Heart Association Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers (CPR and AED) obtained during the months of June-August, prior to Fall Year 1 semester start.