Feb 02, 2023  
2014-2015 Catalog 
2014-2015 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Dental Hygiene, A.A.A.S.

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(Students should initially enroll in Code 324.)

GRCC Program:

Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences

The dental hygienist—the preventive specialist—fills a key position on the dental health team. Graduates of the associate’s degree curriculum may assume a variety of major roles in the prevention of dental disease.

Dental hygiene practice includes obtaining clients’ medical and dental histories, conducting extraoral and intraoral examinations, performing diagnostic procedures, providing complete oral prophylaxis (scaling and polishing teeth), and placing pit and fissure sealants.

The dental hygiene program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.  The commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education.  The Commission on Dental Accreditiation can be contacted at 312-440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611.

Graduates will be eligible to take national and regional board examinations to qualify for licensure as Registered Dental Hygienists (RDHs). Requirements for licensure as an RDH in the State of Michigan are stated in the Michigan Public Health Code, Public Act 368 of 1978. The new applicant for licensure is required to complete a criminal background check as part of the State of Michigan application process. Applicants will be asked about felony convictions, misdemeanor convictions resulting in imprisonment, and convictions for possession of controlled substances (including those involving alcohol related to motor vehicle violations). Previous convictions may prevent the applicant from receiving a license.

Dental hygienists work in private and group dental practices, departments of public health, hospitals, schools, clinics, veterans facilities and the armed forces. Job opportunities for trained dental hygienists are expected to be good in the years ahead.

 Essential Abilities

The Grand Rapids Community College Dental Auxiliary Department faculty has specified essential abilities and technical standards critical to the success of students in any GRCC Dental Hygiene program. Students must demonstrate these essential abilities to succeed in their program of study. Qualified applicants are expected to meet all admission criteria and matriculating students are expected to meet all progression criteria, as well as these essential abilities and technical standards with or without reasonable accommodations. 

1.      Essential judgment skills to include: The dental hygiene student will need to develop the skills necessary to relate to others, to demonstrate the characteristics of self-awareness, awareness of others and the ability to communicate that awareness. Dental hygienists are licensed individuals and are therefore held to a certain level of job performance by the State.

2.      Essential physical/neurological functions to include: Students will also be required to perform certain physical functions in order to successfully complete the program. They will perform them throughout their coursework and clinical experience and later in their employment. These functions are not conditions for admission into the program; they are listed for the purpose of alerting students to what physical functions may be required of them.

  • Mobility: In the course of performing dental hygiene duties, the dental hygienist may have to sit, stand, and reach overhead while standing or sitting. A dental hygienist must be able to move quickly should an emergency occur.
  • Hearing: A dental hygienist must be able to hear faint sounds such as those generated while taking a blood pressure or examining/cleaning the teeth with dental instruments.
  • Visual Discrimination: A dental hygienist must have sufficient vision to be able to discern gradations of color and to see details that are not readily apparent in the mouth.
  • Coordination and Manual Dexterity: A dental hygienist needs to possess hand-eye coordination skills and fine and gross motor skills to manipulate dental instruments and equipment with both upper extremities. Be free of pre-existing conditions that limit manual dexterity of their hands (example: carpal tunnel syndrome).

3.      Essential communication skills to include: a dental hygienist must be able to communicate both orally and in writing with other healthcare providers and clients. Working as a dental hygienist requires knowledge of communication through body language as well.

4.      Essential emotional coping skills: ability to manage potential stressors that accompany tasks necessary to safely engage in the practice of dental hygiene as determined by professional standards of practice.

5.      Essential intellectual/conceptual skills to include: ability to measure, calculate, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate to engage competently in the safe practice of dental hygiene.

6.      Other essential behavioral attributes: ability to engage in activities consistent with safe dental hygiene practice without demonstrated behaviors of addiction to, abuse of, or dependence on alcohol or other drugs that may impair behavior or judgment. The student must demonstrate responsibility and accountability for actions as a student in the Dental Auxiliary Department and as a developing dental hygiene professional consistent with accepted standards of practice.

Grand Rapids Community College strives to be more than ADA compliant. We strive to be accessible and welcoming to all students of all abilities. After reviewing the Essential Abilities/Technical Standards for this program; your responsibilities as a student entail determining if you can complete all associated coursework either:

A.     With Accommodation. I am otherwise qualified to meet the same academic standards as any other student entering the program. However, based on a medically documented condition or diagnosis, I would qualify for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990). I will meet with Disability Support Services on campus to arrange those accommodations in an interactive process with the Dental Auxiliary Department.

B.     Without Accommodation. I am able to complete the program without need for reasonable accommodation or modification. In the event my medical documentation reveals otherwise or a condition manifests that would necessitate an accommodation; it is my responsibility to inform a responsible authority figure within the Dental Auxiliary Department  and work with Disability Support Services to see if a reasonable accommodation or modification can be made.

If you have a medically documented condition or diagnosis, please contact the (field of study) office, or contact Disability Support Services (DSS) at disability@grcc.edu or by phone at 616.234.4140 to arrange accommodations through our interactive process.

Pre-Dental Hygiene Program Requirements

In order to be eligible for admission into the Pre-Dental Hygiene portion of the program, students must:

  1. Be a high school graduate or have passed the high school equivalency GED (General Educational Development) Test.
  2. Have a high school and college GPA of at least 2.0
  3. Take the Accuplacer test.  The student must score a minimum of a 41 on the algebra section or a 65 on the arithmetic section, and score a 74 on the reading section.
  4. Successfully complete the four Pre-Dental Hygiene science courses—BI 121 , BI 122 , BI 127  and CHM 210  . Successful completion is defined as a grade of C- or better within two attempts.For the purposes of  pre- dental hygiene program requirements, a withdrawal from a course is equivalent to one attempt.  Earning a grade below C-(1.67) twice in any of the four stated science courses will require that the student withdraw from  pre-dental hygiene. This policy applies to GRCC students as well as to transfer students taking equivalent courses at other colleges or universities.
  5. Complete GRCC criminal background check form and pass the criminal background check. Students should also be aware that before entering the dental hygiene program, students will be required to submit to a more extensive criminal background check in the form of being fingerprinted by GRCC Campus Police. There is a fee associated with this background check.The PDF form for this process is available on the Dental Hygiene webpage .
  6. Candidates may apply for entry into the program at the end of their junior year in high school.
  • The GRCC Dental Hygiene program takes a minimum of 3 years to complete. The first year is “Pre-Dental Hygiene” and includes successful completion of  the four  science courses (BI 121 , BI 122 , BI 127  and CHM 210 ).
  • Students are highly encouraged to complete all of the nondental courses prior to beginning the second year. This way, scheduling is much less complex, and the student can focus all energies on the professional training part of the program.
  • In order to progress through the professional sequence, students must earn a minimum of a 2.0 GPA in each DHY and DXX courses.
  • Students must successfully pass each DHY and DXX courses in the sequence indicated in the first and second year of the professional curriculum.
  • To be eligible for graduation from the associate degree dental hygiene program, students must earn a C- (78%) in the prescribed associate degree dental hygiene curriculum, and in each DHY and DXX course.
  • In addition to tuition, fees, and books, there are additional costs for uniforms, dental instruments, etc. An estimated cost sheet for the dental hygiene program can be found at www.grcc.edu/dental-hygiene.

* Successful completion of the four science courses does not guarantee students will begin the Dental Hygiene Program the following year.

Pre-Dental Hygiene

First Semester (Suggested Sequence)

Total Credits: 17

Second Semester (Suggested Sequence)

Total Credits: 18

First Year (Professional Sequence)

First Semester (Fall)

Total Credits: 15

Second Semester (Winter)

Total Credits: 18

Summer (7 weeks)

Total Credits: 10

Second Year (Professional Sequence)

First Semester (Fall)

Total Credits: 17

Second Semester (Winter)

Total Credits: 14


Total Dental Credits 74

Total Non-Dental Credits 35

Total Credits 111


* CH = Contact hours: The number of class hours of attendance required per week.

† These courses must be completed with a “C–” (1.67) or better prior to starting the professional sequence of the program. They may be completed prior to when they appear in the curriculum.

** These courses may be completed prior to when they appear in the Dental Hygiene curriculum.

Transfer Opportunities:

The Transfer Guide for many bachelor’s degree majors offered at Michigan colleges and universities is available at the Counseling and Career Center and online at www.grcc.edu.


DHY 114 has been added and total credits changed (corrected 1/30/2105)

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