Dental Hygiene Program »

Dental Hygiene FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’S)

What information do I need to submit by the application deadline? 
All application information - there is only an application form and transcript for the initial class.  There is not a Transfer. All students must start in September/Fall:
  • Freshman (September/Fall) entry – December 1 of preceding year

Can I work and be in the program? 
It is strongly recommended that students refrain from working while they are enrolled as a Dental Hygiene Program student. Successful students' present high levels of discipline and organization and a work schedule can impede the progress and success of a student. The academic rigors and the time commitment for clinical and other school-related activities leave little time for employment. The program is scheduled as a full time college academic program. It is recommended that prospective applicants have a financial plan and savings in place to ease the stress of a decreased income.  

Do I need to have all prerequisite courses completed at the time of application? 
You may have coursework in progress at the time of application. All prerequisite coursework must be complete prior to entry into the professional portion of the program. Transcripts confirming completion must be filed with the Office of Admission.

If I am a graduate of a dental assisting program, served in the military as a dental assistant or hygienist, or am I foreign trained dentist will I need to take all courses in the professional portion of the program? 
Yes. Vocational units from a dental assisting program, military dental hygienist or dental assistant training, or foreign-trained dental program credits are not applicable for advance placement in the professional portion of the program. Skill proficiency may, however, make coursework easier in given subjects.

If accepted, can I take dental hygiene coursework on a part time basis? 
The coursework schedule, once accepted into professional portion of the program, must be completed in five sequential semesters of full time coursework. The course schedule is anticipated to run from approximately 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. through 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

What is a dental hygienist?   
A registered Dental Hygienist is a licensed professional who provides for patients preventative and therapeutic dental hygiene services which help to arrest and prevent decay and periodontal disease. Dental hygienists practice in health oriented settings (public and private) as clinicians, health promoters, educators, consumer advocates, researchers and administrators. Formal higher education and qualifying exams are required. After completion of an accredited dental hygiene program and the awarding of a degree, licensure is required for employment.

Is the program accredited? 
Yes.  The El Centro College Dental Hygiene Program has been granted the accreditation status of approval without reporting requirements by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation (ADA CODA).  The next Program site visit by the Commission is scheduled for 2019.
If I take the general education courses ahead of time, can I complete the program faster? 
No. Even though you must take some general education courses prior to your acceptance in to the program, it will still take you two years to complete the Dental Hygiene Program courses. The courses follow a specific sequence and are arranged so the covered content builds upon the previous courses. Courses are not offered out of order.

Is the program offered on a part-time schedule? 
No. Although some general education and pre-requisite course requirements may be taken part-time, the Dental Hygiene Program is only offered as a full-time program.

Are program courses offered at night? 
No. Pre-requisite course requirements may be taken in the evenings but all of the Dental Hygiene Program coursework is offered in the daytime.

Are there any physical requirements needed for the Dental Hygiene Program? 
Yes.  Certain minimal physical and mental qualifications are necessary in order to perform the skills required of an allied dental student. In order to be considered for admission into and progression through the El Centro College Dental Hygiene Program, the student must have:
  1. The motor ability necessary to ambulate independently in patient clinic operatory, laboratory and other work areas.
  2. Visual acuity sufficient to observe and assess patient behavior, prepare instruments and accurately operate equipment.
  3. Auditory acuity sufficient to hear instructions, requests, and monitor equipment.
  4. The motor ability necessary to manipulate equipment and supplies and to utilize fine psychomotor skills for patient assessment and treatment.
  5. The ability to speak, write, and comprehend the English language proficiently.
  6. The ability to communicate in a professional manner and establish rapport with patients, peers, colleagues, and Program staff and personnel.
  7. The ability to think critically and use problem-solving skills.
  8. The ability to resolve conflicts appropriately and function effectively in stressful situations.
El Centro College will provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities in order for students to have access to educational programs and services. Students with disabilities requiring accommodations should make the initial request for accommodation from the Disability Services Office.  

Do I need to have dental experience to be accepted into the Program? 
No, although dental experience is helpful at the beginning of the program, dental hygiene is a separate entity of dentistry and requires a different subset of clinical skills. The applicant with dental experience should be open-minded to learning specific skills related to the profession. 

Will I be exposed to risks or hazards? 
Yes. Like other allied healthcare professionals, you may be exposed to infectious diseases.
Dental and allied dental healthcare workers provide services in the oral cavity and come in contact with blood and saliva. Proper procedures for radiation health/safety, sterilization, infection and disease control, and personal protection are taught throughout the Program and strictly enforced.

After admission to the Dental Hygiene Program, are there grade requirements to stay in the Program? 
You must maintain a “75” or better in each Dental Hygiene Program course in order to progress to the next semester.  In addition, clinical requirements are numerous and must be accomplished prior to the end of the course in order to proceed to the next course. Requirements are included in all clinical courses but the second year has the heaviest load of clinical requirements.

Will I be a licensed dental hygienist upon successful completion of this program? 
Licenses are not awarded through the educational institution. Upon completion of the degree requirements, including professional coursework, the student receives an Associate in Applied Science degree and is eligible for licensure. You must take a comprehensive written National Board Examination, regional clinical examination, and written examination on the State Dental Act administered by the Texas State Board of Dentistry. Upon successful completion of all examinations and payment of fees, you may be granted a license to practice as a registered Dental Hygienist in Texas. Licensure is required for employment as a dental hygienist.

Do I have to have a criminal background check?
Yes. Applicants who have been accepted into the Program are required to complete a criminal and sex offender background check prior to the beginning of the first semester. Future employment and certification may be affected by the results of these background checks. it is advisable to check with the Texas State Board of Dentistry to inquire about obtaining state and national certification if you have a positive background check. Candidates are encouraged to go to the website and complete a Criminal History Evaluation to determine if the candidate will be eligible for a dental hygienist license.
For more information, call El Centro Health Occupations Admissions department at 972-860-5001, the El Centro Dental Hygiene Program at 214-860-2301, or email
For details about graduation rates, program costs and other important information, view the gainful employment disclosure.