Dental Hygiene

Dental Hygiene

Lane’s two-year Dental Hygiene program will give you the training and skills to enter into a highly regarded profession. We prepare our graduates for employment in a wide-variety of dental care settings, incorporating lecture with hands-on lab and clinical experiences, as well as preparation for national and state board exams.


Is the Dental Hygiene program for you?

Do you have a passion for oral health care? Do you enjoy working with people in a variety of settings? Are you looking for a rewarding and highly varied career? If you have strong communication and critical thinking skills, good attention to detail, enjoy working with your hands and want a team-oriented career with responsibility, then consider Dental Hygiene!

When you’re ready to get started with your program prerequisites, just apply to Lane! Our Admissions office staff will guide you through the steps to enroll to get you started right. You can also contact Admissions with any questions you have about the college, to schedule a tour of the campus, or just to say hello. If you’re not ready to apply today, you can request more information on the program and we’ll get in touch to make a plan that works for you.

What will you learn in the Dental Hygiene program?

The Dental Hygiene Program is a concentrated two-year course of study that includes online, classroom, and dental clinic and clinical laboratory learning. All lecture courses are taken in sequence and include:

  • Infection Control and Safety
  • Dental Anatomy and Histology
  • Oral Biology, Roentgenology and Oral Pathology
  • Pharmacology and Local Anesthesia
  • Periodontology
  • Community Dental Health
  • Restorative Functions
  • Expanded Practice Functions
  • Current trends and issues

The first year of the program includes 6-14 hours per week of lab, pre-clinical and clinical instruction. The second year of the program includes 17-22 hours per week of clinical instruction.

Through your clinical courses, you’ll learn to:

  • Conduct initial dental assessment exams for new dental patients, and communicate findings to dentists
  • Thoroughly review patient health history, contraindications for care and other health concerns
  • Conduct intra/extraoral exam, periodontal evaluation and develop treatment plans for patient dental needs
  • Remove plaque and tartar from teeth with hand and ultrasonic instrumentation techniques
  • Apply fluoride and sealants to prevent dental decay
  • Treat gingivitis and periodontitis and provide instructions for perio-maintenance
  • Classify periodontal disease and administer sonic and hand scaling techniques
  • Utilize diagnostic and panoramic x-rays and digital imaging
  • Take dental impressions
  • Assist dentists with restorative procedures like placement of fillings, local anesthetics and dental care techniques
  • Directly administer local anesthetics/nitrous oxide to patients and implement periodontal procedures, using Non-Surgical Periodontal Treatment strategies
  • Electronically document treatment plans and care performed on patients
  • Educate patients on proper brushing and flossing
  • Provide nutritional counseling for patients experiencing high-risk decay rates
  • Learn prevention of blood-borne diseases, and application of OSHA standards in the dental environment
  • Learn and practice Dental Hygiene Expanded Practice functions under Oregon state law
  • Develop skills in interpersonal communication and collaboration to effectively interact with diverse populations and age groups, health care providers, dental professionals and community groups
  • Apply principles of ethical reasoning, decision making, and professional responsibility
  • Learn restorative dentistry skills while providing dental fillings to children and adults in preparation for employment in busy dental practices

Experiential learning is an important aspect of the Dental Hygiene program. As a student, you’ll be able to participate in off-campus experiences with community clinics, school-based screenings, presentations for health fairs, treatment of specialty populations at distance clinical sites, and inter-professional collaboration and visitations to local specialty and general dentistry offices/clinics.

Applying to the Dental Hygiene program

Like our other Health Professions programs, there is a competitive, point-based application process for entry into the Dental Hygiene Program. Before you can apply, you’ll need to complete the required prerequisite courses. Questions about prerequisites or applying to the dental hygiene program? Reach out to the academic advisors for answers. 

Once you’ve completed the prerequisite courses and you’re ready to apply, you’ll find the application on the program application website during winter term each year. The application period opens up in March with a mid-April deadline, which allows for winter term classes to be included in the application process.

What can you do next?

The demand for licensed dental hygienists is high, and is expected to increase by 11% over the next eight years in Oregon and throughout much of the United States. Annual entry-level positions in Oregon for dental hygienists range from $32-$38 per hour, with a $78,110 median salary annually. Earnings of dental hygienists are affected by the type of employer, education and experience of the individual, as well as on the geographic location. Do you speak another language? Demand for multilingual hygienists is growing throughout the northwest! 

Dental Hygienists enjoy their choice of a wide variety of practice settings including dental offices, schools, public health clinics, hospitals, correctional facilities, assisted living facilities, cruise ships, VA clinics, military bases, and Indian Health Services clinics. Some serve as members of the armed forces. In some cases dental hygienists may also accept well-paid international work assignments. Additionally, dental hygienists who attain advanced degrees may choose to become educators, researchers, administrators, and preventive program developers, among other career paths.

Looking for a career with some flexibility? Many dentists offer flexible schedules, and you may have the opportunity to work full-time, part-time, evenings, weekends, or whatever works with your schedule! 

Graduates will receive an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Dental Hygiene. Graduation from this two-year program makes you eligible for state licensure throughout the United States, which is required in order to practice dental hygiene. Students begin taking national board examinations while enrolled in the second year of the Dental Hygiene program.

Lane has an articulation agreement with Oregon Institute of Technology, providing program graduates the opportunity to continue on to earn a bachelors of science degree in Dental Hygiene. Prerequisite coursework for this degree can be taken while completing general education requirements at Lane. If you’re interested in transferring, you should check the Oregon Institute of Technology’s Dental Hygiene Program for current transfer requirements, and work with your advisor to develop a transfer plan.

Lane’s Dental Hygiene program is fully accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted an accreditation status of "approval without reporting requirements".

Personal attention from engaging faculty

Dental Hygiene courses are limited to a maximum of 20 students. Your clinical lab courses will have a ratio of just one teacher to five students, to ensure you receive individual attention while developing your clinical skills. Dental Hygiene instructors get to know you, and they provide you with the personal attention required for mastering the clinical skills and helping you finish the program successfully. Our faculty have extensive clinical and teaching experience, and they bring those experiences to the classroom. Throughout your experience at Lane, you’ll never take a class with more than 40 students, and your class will always be taught by an instructor, not a grad student.

Get to know the Dental Hygiene faculty and advisors

The faculty and advisors for the program can help you meet your career goals. They can answer any program specific questions you might have, and help you find opportunities outside of the classroom. Advisors will help you schedule your classes and plan for the future. You’ll work with them to create a term by term planner that meets your needs and goals to ensure you complete your degree. And if you’re planning on transferring to a four-year school they can help you take the classes you need to count towards your bachelor's degree.

Get real world work experience

During summer term between your first and second year, you’ll have the opportunity to take an optional Cooperative Education internship in Clinical Dental Hygiene at Lane’s dental clinic.

State of the art facilities

As a Dental Hygiene student, you’ll use state-of-the-art dental equipment in our brand-new dental lab on Lane’s main campus, and gain experience and confidence at the college Dental Clinic on Willamette Street in Eugene. Some of the equipment you’ll use includes:

  • Ultrasonic and sonic instruments for periodontal care
  • Intraoral camera for visual documentation and teledentistry communication with community dental clinics
  • Eaglesoft electronic patient records management system; utilizing electronic record documentation to facilitate distance communication with dentists
  • Intraoral polishing with Prophy Jet equipment
  • Portable dentistry units to provide dental services to underserved populations.

Attending classes at Lane

Lane’s main campus is tucked into the foothills of the Oregon Cascades, providing a stunning landscape for your education. With incredible resources on campus like advising, tutoring services, the library, and so many more, you have the opportunity to make the most out of your degree. Lane also offers student housing at Titan Court in downtown Eugene, next to our Mary Spilde Center. Ready to learn more? Schedule a campus tour to explore our beautiful campus and amazing facilities.