Dental Hygiene Programs
Why Dental Hygiene? Why West?
West's dental hygiene program is among the most respected in the country. 100% of our dental hygiene graduates successfully pass the State licensing exam. We currently offer a four-year full-time Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene Program as well as a Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP) program. The final Associate of Science (AS) degrees in dental hygiene will be conferred in June 2017.
Dental hygienists provide primary care to patients to maintain their oral health and prevent oral disease. Dental hygienists enjoy excellent job prospects for the foreseeable future, with an average of 1,230 job openings per year expected in California through 2016 (Source EDD/LMID, Occupational Employment Survey 2008). Dental hygienists work in general and specialty dental offices that offer many different types of preventative services including radiology, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, orthodontics, and oral surgery. Other career options include education, sales, administration, and consulting. Dental hygienists earn an excellent income, with median, full-time wages reaching almost $80,000 per year often with medical benefits, paid vacation and sick leave.
Dental health issues remain a barrier to attendance, as evidenced by a 2010 Los Angeles School Attendance Review Board (SARB), which lists dental health along with homelessness in the top barriers to attendance.
Almost 60% of kids ages 5 to 17 have cavities - making tooth decay five times more common than asthma among children of this age.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS]. Oral Health in America. A Report of the Surgeon General; 2000, p. 63.
Tooth decay is the single most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting nearly 6 in 10 children in the United Sates. In California, the need for oral health is the most prevalent unmet health care need among children and adolescents.
The Critical Connection between Student Health and Academic Achievement: How Schools And Policymakers Can Achieve A Positive Impact, page 3
The job market for dental hygienists is booming. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation will grow 33.3 percent by 2022, which is much faster than the average growth rate for most professions.
There are more dentists retiring each year than there are dental school graduates to replace them.
Beazoglou T et al. “Selling Your Practice at Retirement.” Journal of the American Dental Association, Vol. 131, No. 12, 1693-1698; 2000. See also Gehshan S et al. Help Wanted: A Policy Maker’s Guide to New Dental Providers; May 2009.