Dental Hygiene

Allied Health Sciences Building (AHS), Room 148, (907) 786-6929

The registered dental hygienist is a licensed oral health educator and clinical operator who, as part of the dental team, uses preventive, educational and therapeutic methods which aid individuals and groups to attain and maintain optimum oral health. Dental hygienists can work as clinicians, educators, researchers, administrators, managers, preventive program developers, consumer advocates, sales and marketing managers, editors, and consultants. Clinical dental hygienists may work in a variety of health care settings such as private dental offices, schools, public health clinics, hospitals, managed care organizations, correctional institutions or nursing homes.

The Dental Hygiene Associate of Applied Science program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association, a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation and by the United States Department of Education. The AAS is a three-year program comprising one year of science and general education courses and two years of coursework in dental hygiene. The program prepares graduates clinically and academically to take the National and Western Regional Examining Boards (WREB) for licensure. Once enrolled in the AAS Dental Hygiene program, the student can anticipate a four-semester, 40-hour-per-week endeavor. Some evening classes and clinics are scheduled.

Clinical dental hygiene requires the ability to sit for long periods of time, good to excellent eye-hand coordination and excellent fine hand motor skills. Dental hygienists are exposed to bacteria and viruses. Use of protective glasses, face masks and surgical-type gloves is required. A professional appearance must be maintained during preclinical and clinical sessions.

The Bachelor of Science Dental Hygiene (BSDH) program articulates with the UAA Dental Hygiene AAS. It provides hygienists advanced education in restorative dental hygiene and/or educational methodology. Students earning a BSDH may be eligible for a commission in the U.S. Public Health Service and for teaching opportunities. The BSDH also prepares students for entry to graduate programs in dental hygiene and public health.

Transfer of credits may be possible for graduates of an American Dental Association (ADA) accredited dental assisting program. Contact the dental hygiene program advisor for details.

Some expenses beyond tuition generally include activity fees, instruments, uniforms, lab fees, student organization membership, graduation pin, immunizations, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) class, board exam fees, licensure fees, student health insurance and malpractice insurance for the Western Regional Examining Boards and professional liability insurance. Please refer to the dental hygiene program website for expense estimates.

Special Considerations

Due to the nature of the work, dental hygiene students are not permitted to work in the classroom, laboratory or clinic when under the influence of intoxicants, drugs or medication affecting psychomotor responses. Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental-Health Care Settings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be followed for students with, or exposed to, infectious diseases. As a condition of participation in the dental hygiene program students must abide by the university’s Student Code of Conduct, the dental hygiene program’s policies and procedures, and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association Code of Ethics for Dental Hygienists.

Application for obtaining an Alaska dental hygiene license or restorative certification requires a background check and disclosure of information concerning illegal activity, crimes, hospitalization history regarding emotional or mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholism and contagious diseases. If a student has a history with any of the aforementioned, it is highly recommended the applicant contact the Alaska Department of Occupational Licensing or a similar government agency in any state in which the applicant wants to practice. Employability may be affected by results of background checks and/or drug testing. The UAA dental program application requires information concerning disciplinary actions taken at any university or college.

Preclinical and Clinical Requirements

Once admitted to the dental hygiene program, students are required to provide the following:

  1. A signed application form indicating the understanding and acceptance of the dental hygiene program requirements regarding health screening and immunizations.
  2. Current Health Care Provider (American Heart Association) or Professional Rescuer (American Red Cross) certification in CPR/AED for infants, children and adults. First-year students must present proof of certification by the first day of class. Certification must be kept current until graduation.
  3. Professional liability insurance that must be maintained throughout the duration of the student’s enrollment in dental hygiene courses. Specific information regarding acceptable professional liability insurance policies may be obtained directly from the program.

Students enrolled in the dental hygiene program must provide their own transportation to all off-campus assignments. The program assumes no responsibility for illnesses and injuries experienced by the student while enrolled in the dental hygiene program. Students are responsible for all costs incurred due to illness or injury experienced by the student while enrolled in the dental hygiene program. It is required that students maintain personal medical insurance while enrolled in the program.

Students are responsible for providing their own patients to satisfy clinical requirements.

Programs of Study

Associate of Applied Science

Bachelor of Science


Sandra Pence, Professor,
Carri Shamburger, Assistant Professor,