General Information

The Registered Dental Hygienist

The Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) is a member of the dental team who provides preventive oral health care. In North Carolina, the RDH works under the direct supervision of the dentist to perform oral health assessments, oral cancer screenings, expose and mount radiographs, provide oral health education, provide therapeutic treatment including prophylaxis (cleaning), applying sealants and fluoride to prevent decay, and nutritional counseling.

The Registered Dental Hygienist is a licensed oral health professional. State licensure requirements typically indicate that a dental hygienist has graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program, successfully passed a national examination, and successfully passed a state or regional clinical examination.

The Dental Hygiene Scope of Practice

The dental hygienist can work in a variety of employment settings including: general and specialty dental practices, community health, federal government programs, education, research, hospital and long-term care facilities, and dental promotion.

Each state has its own regulations regarding the dental hygienist’s scope of practice. Upon graduation at Cape Fear Community College, the student will be able to perform the following services in North Carolina:

  • Perform periodontal screenings
  • Prophylaxis (cleanings)
  • Expose, process and mount radiographs
  • Apply dental sealants
  • Apply fluoride
  • Provide oral health education and nutritional counseling
  • Other duties as delegated by the supervising dentist

North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners link


At Cape Fear Community College, dental hygiene graduates will graduate will an Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Hygiene.

The Dental Hygiene program at Cape Fear Community College is accredited without reporting requirements by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

Commission on Dental Accreditation

211 East Chicago Avenue

Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 440-4653

Employment Outlook

Dental Hygiene ranks among the fastest growing occupations.  Employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow 33 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Dental Hygiene continues to be a growing job market. The average salary for a dental hygienist upon graduation is reported at $25-$30/hr. Salary will vary by practice setting and practice location.

Bureau of Labor Statistics link

Professional Organizations

American Dental Hygienists Association

North Carolina Dental Hygienists’ Association