Dental Hygiene


Dental Hygiene, B.S. DegreeB.S.
Accelerated Dental Hygiene, B.S./M.SDegreeB.S./M.S.
Dental Hygiene Completion, B.S. DegreeB.S.
Accelerated Dental Hygiene, A.A.S./A.S./M.S.DegreeA.A.S./A.S./M.S.


As licensed oral health care professionals and educators, dental hygienists, as members of the dental team, often work in collaboration with other health care providers. Dental hygienists integrate knowledge of biomedical, dental, clinical, and social sciences to assist individuals and groups in achieving and maintaining optimum oral health. The dental hygienist provides preventive services, preliminary examinations, radiographs, sealants, nonsurgical periodontal therapy, fluoride treatments, and patient education. Depending upon individual state laws, the role of the hygienist has expanded to include procedures that are beyond this traditional scope of responsibility, such as the administration of local anesthesia, nitrous oxide analgesia, and restorative therapy. As a specialist, the dental hygienist is an integral co-therapist in helping consumers prevent oral disease, arrest existing oral disease, and maintain oral health.

Philosophy, Mission, and Goals

Department Philosophy

The fundamental philosophy of the Idaho State University Department of Dental Hygiene is threefold. First, its members are committed to excellence in all academic endeavors. As a component of the university’s primary emphasis area, the program serves statewide, regional, national, and international needs by providing access to quality education in the discipline. Second, the program is progressive in instituting ongoing changes to prepare for the future of dental hygiene. The program also places priority on basing these changes on continual outcome assessments while maintaining essential traditional values. Third, we strive to meet the oral health needs of the public and workforce demands.

Teaching Philosophy 

The teaching philosophy of the dental hygiene faculty provides the framework for creating a stimulating, challenging, and supportive environment to promote intellectual curiosity, professionalism, and life-long learning. The faculty are committed to providing students with clear definitions of expectations, appropriate teaching and learning strategies, regular assessment of student performance, and sufficient structure to support learning and creativity.

Clinical teaching develops competence while focusing on person-centered care in a variety of settings. Educational experiences provide opportunities for students to explore dental hygiene roles and responsibilities with individuals or groups representing diverse populations as a part of interprofessional collaborative care.

An atmosphere of mutual trust and respect provides the foundation for continual development of competence, confidence, and professional values. The dental hygiene faculty strive to provide a learner-centered approach focusing on critical thinking and problem solving. Instructional strategies are used involving active learning, self-assessment, and reflection.


Empowering the next generation of healthcare providers to improve individual and population health.


To be the premier national dental hygiene center of education, practice, leadership, and scholarship

Department Goals

Pursuant to our broad philosophy and mission statement, the Department of Dental Hygiene seeks to positively impact the education of its students and the delivery of dental hygiene services to the public by fulfilling interrelated program goals.

  • Goal 1:  Provide progressive education to empower professionals to drive the future of healthcare.
  • Goal 2:  Promote the University, the Department, and the Profession through leadership and scholarship.
  • Goal 3:  Inspire innovation in healthcare delivery through interprofessional and community partnerships.
  • Goal 4:  Foster a supportive and high performing culture empowered to achieve excellence.
  • Goal 5: Cultivate a respectful and collaborative environment supportive of belonging and inclusiveness.

Baccalaureate Program Description

The Department of Dental Hygiene awards a Bachelor of Science degree. Students apply to the professional curriculum after completing prerequisite courses in science and general education. The professional program is two years in length. Prerequisites can be completed at the institution of the student’s choice. The Department of Dental Hygiene has transfer information posted on its website at:

The program is designed to foster student growth, promote development of critical and ethical judgment, and encourage life-long learning. The curriculum includes didactic, laboratory, and clinical instruction sufficient to graduate competent clinicians who are capable of practicing contemporary dental hygiene procedures. Students are educated to clinical competency in both traditional and advanced procedures, with emphasis placed on preventive, therapeutic, and nonsurgical services essential for providing total patient care to the public. As a result, graduates possess an increased understanding of dentistry and dental hygiene, expanded capabilities as members of the oral health team, and greater career mobility. Graduates of the Idaho State University Dental Hygiene program also are prepared to pursue graduate studies in dental hygiene or related areas. The Dental Hygiene program is fully accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation.

Professional Competencies for ISU Dental Hygiene Graduates

Students must demonstrate successful attainment of the program competencies in order to graduate. Once graduated and practicing dental hygiene, experience and continued learning will result in graduates becoming proficient, and eventually with years of experience, an expert dental hygienist.

The program competencies are categorized into these three overarching topics:

Professionalism and Ethics
Graduates must demonstrate professional behavior by using critical thinking, problem solving skills, and effective communication. Professional decision-making must be consistent with dental hygiene standards of care, legal regulations, and the ADHA Code of Ethics. Graduates must possess the skills necessary to enhance professional development and pursue life-long learning. Advancing and promoting the values of the profession will strengthen professional commitment.

Process of Care
Graduates must demonstrate clinical competence in providing comprehensive oral health care including non- surgical periodontal therapy and expanded functions to foster optimal oral health. Clinical competence includes client assessment and diagnosis, as well as planning, implementation, evaluation, and documentation of treatment for clients of all ages and with all classifications of periodontal diseases. The scope of practice encompasses clients of diverse cultural and socioeconomic populations including those exhibiting medically compromised health or special needs conditions.

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in the Community
Graduates must be competent to conduct health promotion and disease prevention programs in diverse communities. Competence includes the skills necessary to assess, develop, implement, and evaluate community-based programs that will benefit the oral health and total body wellness of community members and groups.

Employment Opportunities

Upon completion of the dental hygiene curriculum, graduates are qualified to take the Dental Hygiene National Board Examination and regional and state licensure exams. Graduates are eligible for positions in private dental offices, public health programs, school health programs, dental hygiene education, and research. In addition, the Dental Hygiene program provides instruction and experience in advanced procedures to broaden capabilities for clinical practice.

Master of Science in Dental Hygiene

The graduate program is designed for licensed dental hygienists with baccalaureate degrees. Graduates are prepared for more complex roles in the discipline such as dental hygiene educators, researchers, and advanced rural and community oral health practitioners. The program provides an online graduate curriculum with minimal on-campus visitations required. For more information, please see the Dental Hygiene page in the Graduate Catalog.

Accelerated B.S. to M.S.D.H. Degree

B.S. degree-seeking students enrolled in the Dental Hygiene program at Idaho State University are eligible to apply to the B.S.-M.S. Accelerated Track option during their senior year and complete up to 12 credits of graduate coursework. Contact the department for more details.

Transfer Advising

Transcripts will be evaluated by the ISU Office of the Registrar to determine courses fulfilling the general education requirements for B.S. degree requirements. Transfer students who have met the Idaho State Board of Education core subject requirements have fulfilled General Education requirements; however, MATH 1153 is a prerequisite to DENT 4401 Research Methods. Students who earned a baccalaureate degree have fulfilled the General Education requirements.

Transcripts will be evaluated by Dental Hygiene Transfer Coordinator to determine courses meeting the dental hygiene entry-level requirements. An individualized program of study will be developed in collaboration with the transfer coordinator and approved before beginning coursework.

For more information on transfer credit limits, please review the university degree requirement page at /undergraduate/degreerequirements.

Transfer students with an Associate of Science or Associate of Arts and Sciences degree as the entry-level dental hygiene degree from a U.S. academic regionally accredited institution have completed ALL of the General Education requirements; however, MATH 1153 is a prerequisite to DENT 4401 Research Methods.

Transfer students with an Associate of Applied Science degree as the entry-level dental hygiene degree from a U.S. academic regionally accredited institution AND who have met the Idaho State Board core subject requirements have fulfilled the B.S. degree General Education requirements; however, MATH 1153 is a prerequisite to DENT 4401 Research Methods.

Transfer students with an Associate of Applied Science degree as the entry-level dental hygiene degree from a U.S. academic regionally accredited institution must complete any General Education Objectives not already completed. See the General Education Requirements in the Academic Information section of this catalog.

Credits awarded for an Associate of Applied Science degree as the entry-level dental hygiene degree granted by a U.S. academic institution not accredited by a regional accrediting agency cannot be applied to a B.S. degree at Idaho State University.

DENT Faculty

DENT Courses