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Program Goals and Competencies


Graduates of the dental hygiene program will be able to demonstrate the basic knowledge and skills needed for entry into the dental hygiene field.
Graduates of the dental hygiene program will be able to effectively utilize problem-solving and critical thinking skills in inpatient care.
Dental Hygiene students will gain experience with up-to-date and paperless technology.


Competencies define the abilities expected of the graduate of the A.A.S. Dental Hygiene Program. These competencies reflect behavior, knowledge, and skills.

1. Ethical Behavior

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to apply a professional code of ethics in all endeavors.

1.1 Integrate the ADHA code of ethics in all professional endeavors.
1.2 Adhere to state and federal laws, recommendations and regulations in the provision of dental hygiene care.
1.3 Serve all patients without discrimination, appreciating the diversity of the population.
1.4 Apply principles of risk management to manage professional risks and prevent liability.

2. Professional Behavior

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to practice as a member of a team in a professional manner.

2.1 Assume responsibility for dental hygiene actions and services based on scientific theories and protocol.
2.2 Provide accurate, consistent, and complete documentation when serving in professional roles.
2.3 Communicate effectively using verbal, non-verbal, written, and electronic communication skills.

3. Problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making.

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to acquire and analyze information in a scientific manner.

3.1 Critically analyze published reports of oral research and apply this information to the practice of dental hygiene.
3.2 Evaluate the safety and efficacy of oral health products and practice.

4. Assessment

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to collect, analyze and record data on the general, oral, and psycho-social health status of patients using methods consistent with medical, legal, and ethical principles.

4.1 Assess patient concerns, goals, and values to direct patient care.
4.2 Obtain, review, update and interpret an accurate medical/dental history and vital signs. Recognize conditions that require special precautions or consideration prior to or during dental hygiene care.
4.3 Perform and extraoral and intraoral examination.
4.4 Perform an examination of the teeth and accurately record the results.
4.5 Evaluate the periodontium and identify conditions that compromise periodontal health.
4.6 Identify the need for radiographs and distinguish normal radiographic anatomy from abnormal.
4.7 Recognize predisposing and etiological risk factors that require intervention to prevent and control the disease.
4.8 Perform appropriate examinations to obtain, validate, and interpret diagnostic information.
4.9 Identify patients at risk for a medical emergency and take appropriate precautions to minimize those risks.

5. Diagnosis

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to use critical decision-making skills to determine the patient’s needs related to their oral health and disease, based on all available data.

5.1 Analyze and interpret the data to formulate a dental hygiene diagnosis related to and harmonious with the diagnosis of the dentist and other health professionals.
5.2 Obtain consultations as appropriate.

6. Planning

The dental hygiene graduate must be able, through consultation with the patient and other health professionals, to formulate a comprehensive dental hygiene care plan. The care plan will identify dental hygiene interventions to be provided that are evidence-based.

6.1 Establish a planned sequence of educational, preventive, and therapeutic services, collaboratively with the patient, based on the dental hygiene diagnosis.
6.2 Formulate goals and establish expected outcomes related to the needs and desires of the patient.
6.3 Make referrals as indicated by the care plan.

7. Implementation

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to provide individualized care that includes educational, preventive, and therapeutic services designed to assist the patient in achieving and maintaining oral health.

7.1 Educate patients to prevent and control risk factors that contribute to caries, periodontal disease, and other oral conditions.
7.2 Utilize accepted infection control procedures.
7.3 Obtain radiographs of diagnostic quality.
7.4 Apply basic and advanced principles of dental hygiene instrumentation to remove deposits without trauma to hard or soft tissue.
7.5 Control pain and anxiety during treatment through the use of accepted pharmacological and behavioral techniques.
7.6 Select and administer appropriate chemotherapeutic agents and provide pre- and post-treatment instructions.
7.7 Provide adjunct dental hygiene services that can be legally performed.
7.8 Manage medical emergencies.

8. Evaluation & Maintenance

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to evaluate the effectiveness of educational, preventive, and therapeutic services and modify it if needed.

8.1 Determine the outcomes of dental hygiene interventions using indices, instruments, examination techniques, and patient self-report.
8.2 Compare actual outcomes to expected outcomes, reevaluating goals, diagnoses, and services when expected outcomes are not achieved.
8.3 Develop and maintain a periodontal maintenance program.
8.4 Determine the patient’s satisfaction with the oral health care received and then oral health status achieved.

9. Education and communication

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to promote the values of oral and general health to the public and organizations.

9.1 Identify factors that can be used to motivate the patient for health promotion, disease prevention, and health maintenance.
9.2 Educate other individuals and/or organizations about the assessment, access, and delivery of services in the provision of oral care.
9.3 Present educational information to diverse patient populations, in a variety of settings using appropriate teaching strategies.

10. Community involvement

The dental hygiene graduate must be able to assume responsibility for health promotion and disease prevention to the public and organizations within and outside the profession.

10.1 Assess community oral health needs, risk, and available resources, and evaluate outcomes for health improvement and access to the healthcare system.
10.2 Plan, implement, and evaluate community oral health education and services.
10.3 Provide dental hygiene services as an interdisciplinary health care member in a variety of settings.

11. Professional Commitment and Advancement

The dental hygiene graduate must be concerned with improving the knowledge, skills, and values of the profession.

11.1 Advance the values of the profession through leadership, service activities, and affiliations with professional and public organizations.
11.2 Assume the roles of the professional dental hygienists (clinician, educator, researcher, change agent, consumer advocate, administrator) as defined by the ADHA.
11.3 Assume the responsibility for professional growth through lifelong learning.
11.4 Evaluate professional issues and scientific literature in order to make evidence-based decisions that advance the profession of dental hygiene.

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