Dental Hygiene Major, B.S.

School of Dentistry

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385 South Columbia St., CB# 7450

(919) 537-3347

Nikki Perkinson, Student Services

Scott S. De Rossi, Dean and Professor

The dental hygienist is an educator and motivator as well as a health care provider. As a practicing member of the dental health team, the hygienist is primarily concerned with the maintenance of oral health and the prevention of dental disease. Additionally, dental hygienists may assume professional leadership roles; participate in the development, implementation, and evaluation of community health programs; engage in research activities; or serve as consultants and assume managerial roles in certain types of dental care delivery systems.

Students are subject to the academic requirements in place when they are admitted to the dental hygiene program; consequently, the requirements described in this catalog particularly apply to students admitted to the school during the 2018–2019 academic year.

All course descriptions can be found in ConnectCarolina and in the UNC School of Dentistry Academic Catalog (found at the bottom of the homepage).

Department Programs



Graduate Programs

Admission to the Program

Applicants may be admitted for dental hygiene study after completion of the dental hygiene prerequisites, provided they meet requirements of the University. To assure proper planning for admission, applicants should maintain close contact with the program during the application process.

Enrollment is limited, and applicants are accepted on a competitive basis. Admission to the University does not guarantee admission into the dental hygiene program. Selections are based on academic achievement with an emphasis on performance in science courses, character, knowledge of working with the dental team, and a sincere interest in dental hygiene as a professional career. For UNC–Chapel Hill students, application for admission to the program is usually made during the second year of General College study. Interested students should submit an online application, which can be accessed from ConnectCarolina.

For transfer applicants, all prerequisite dental hygiene coursework and General College courses taken at other institutions must be approved for transfer in advance by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Official transcripts from all schools attended (including high school) must be submitted.

Three letters of recommendation must be submitted with the application. Two of the letters should be from previous college course directors and one letter should be a character reference. In addition, applicants must shadow in a dental office for a minimum of 20 hours. This requirement may be fulfilled through prior dental assisting experience.

Prior to being admitted and enrolled, all applicants will be required to present evidence of satisfactory completion of prerequisite courses required by the major. Applicants with a previous degree should contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to determine fulfillment of General College requirements. Specific admission requirements on the prelicensure and graduate programs in dental hygiene can be obtained from the School of Dentistry Academic Catalog.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the dental hygiene program, students should be able to:

  • Possess the skills and knowledge needed to provide optimal dental hygiene patient care while valuing and adhering to the ethical beliefs as stated by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association Code of Ethics
  • Promote the values of optimal oral health as related to general health and overall wellness to all patients
  • Embrace an interdisciplinary role within the health care system and assess, plan, implement, and evaluate oral health care programs and activities for diverse population groups while facilitating access to care and services
  • Assess, plan, implement, and evaluate treatment in the promotion of oral and systemic health using an evidence-based approach
  • Value the dental hygiene profession through career growth and development and commitment to lifelong learning


All baccalaureate-seeking dental hygiene students must fulfill the General Education requirements. In addition to completing ENGL 105, a foreign language through level 3, a quantitative reasoning course (STOR 151 recommended), and a lifetime fitness course, dental hygiene students must fulfill the Approaches requirements and successfully complete at least five Connections courses, including global issues, experiential education, and U.S. diversity. Other specific requirements include the following courses:

BIOC 107Introduction to Biochemistry 14
or CHEM 101
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I
BIOC 108Introduction to Biochemistry4
or CHEM 102
General Descriptive Chemistry II
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory II
BIOL 252
Fundamentals of Human Anatomy and Physiology
and Fundamentals of Human Anatomy and Physiology Laboratory
Select one of the following:3
Communication and Social Process
Public Speaking 2
Introduction to Interpersonal and Organizational Communication H
MCRO 251Introductory Medical Microbiology4
PSYC 101General Psychology 33
SOCI 101Sociological Perspectives 4, H3
or SOCI 111 Human Societies

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Dental Hygiene Professional School Program

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterHours
CBPH 741 Introduction to Human Anatomy 3
DHYG 241 Nutrition 2
DHYG 252 Dental Radiology 3
DHYG 253 Dental Anatomy 2
DHYG 257 Introduction to Dental Hygiene 2
DHYG 257L Preclinical Dental Hygiene 3
Hours 15
Spring Semester
DHYG 261 Dental Pharmacology 2
DHYG 262 Dental Health Education 2
DHYG 263 Periodontology 2
DHYG 264 Histology 1
DHYG 265 Dental Materials 3
DHYG 267 Dental Hygiene Theory 3
DHYG 267L Clinical Dental Hygiene 3
DHYG 414 Radiographic Interpretation 1
Hours 17
Second Year
Fall Semester
DHYG 351 General and Oral Pathology 3
DHYG 352 Community Dental Health 3
DHYG 357 Clinical Dental Hygiene 5
DHYG 401 Oral Microbiology 2
DHYG 402 Special Care in Dentistry 2
DHYG 403 Current Concepts in Periodontics 2
Hours 17
Spring Semester
DHYG 362 Community Dental Health Internship 1
DHYG 363 Dental Ethics and Jurisprudence 1
DHYG 367 Clinical Dental Hygiene 4
DHYG 393 Dental Hygiene Specialty Practicum 5
Dental hygiene elective (one to two hours) chosen from: 1-2
Current Topics in Dental Hygiene  
Death and Dying During Life's Experience  
Advanced Clinical Dental Hygiene  
Introduction to Dental Office Management  
Dental Hygiene Service Learning  
Community-Based Dental Hygiene Service Learning  
Research Methodology  
Hours 12-13
Total Hours 61-62

In addition to the program requirements listed above, students must attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0. For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Additional Information for the Dental Hygiene Programs

Upon provisional acceptance into the dental hygiene program, all students must provide an acceptable criminal background check and provide documentation of required immunizations, as well as varicella vaccination series (two shots) or a positive quantitative titer; Hepatitis B vaccination series (three shots) and a positive Hepatitis B antibody (HBsAb) quantitative titer; and the Two-Step Tuberculosis Skin Test (TST) or a QuantiFERON-TB Gold blood test. Specific information is provided in the School of Dentistry Academic Catalog.

One of the consequences of the delivery of health care is the possibility of contracting infectious disease such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, herpes, or HIV or herpes. To minimize this risk, the UNC School of Dentistry has adopted an Infection Control Policy that requires the wearing of a clinical overgarment, disposable gloves, a mask and protective safety eye covering when oral examinations and dental hygiene services are being performed.

Dental school fees are required that include instrument rental and other supplies needed for clinical care and the education of patients. Additional costs may occur for projects required in the curriculum.

Special Opportunities in Dental Hygiene

Departmental Involvement

Students are eligible to become members of the student American Dental Hygienists’ Association, American Dental Education Association, American Association of Dental Research, American Association of Public Health Dentistry, and other specialty organizations. Student membership fees may be required.

Experiential Education

Students have the opportunity to participate in community-based clinical experiences as well as providing oral hygiene programs in the community. Service-learning opportunities are possible as an elective. Each semester students will be involved with hands-on experiences providing dental hygiene services. During the final semester of dental hygiene, students will participate in a three-week practicum. Due to the location of community sites, undergraduate students may need access to transportation. Expenses for travel are the responsibility of the student.


Certificate and baccalaureate degree graduates are eligible for dental hygiene licensure examinations at the state and national levels. Candidates must pass both the national and clinical board examinations in order to be granted a license to practice dental hygiene. Additional costs are associated with the examinations required for licensure. Some dental hygiene licensure examinations require background checks with fingerprint analysis.


The dental hygiene program's accreditation status is approval without reporting requirements as determined by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

Undergraduate Awards

Dental hygiene students are eligible for awards through the Spurgeon Dental Society in the School of Dentistry and the Dental Foundation of North Carolina. In addition, student awards are also available through the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, American Association of Public Health Dentistry, American Dental Education Association, and other specialty organizations.

Undergraduate Research

Research opportunities are available at the undergraduate level for dental hygiene students. Students are encouraged to become involved in research activities pertaining to dental hygiene and dentistry. Student research grants are available through the University, professional organizations, and private industry.

Graduate School and Career Opportunities

Upon satisfactory completion of the baccalaureate program, students are eligible for application to graduate programs in dental hygiene education, public health, and other areas. The UNC School of Dentistry offers a master of science (M.S.) graduate degree program in dental hygiene education to which graduates of the dental hygiene program may apply. Graduates also are eligible to apply for admission to the school’s predoctoral dental curriculum provided they successfully complete the required program prerequisites.

The growth of the dental health care field assures an excellent employment outlook for the coming years. Courses of study provide comprehensive educational experience to qualified individuals for the practice of dental hygiene in accordance with the current and changing demands for health services and in accordance with the laws and ethics pertaining to practice.

Program Faculty

Shannon Mitchell, Program Director (Undergraduate Students)

Jennifer Brame, Program Director (Graduate Students)

Roland Arnold, Jennifer Brame, Alice Curran, Jennifer Harmon, Lynne Hunt, Elizabeth Kornegay, Linda Levitch, Sally Mauriello, Lattice Sams, Li Chin, Kate Ciarrocca.

Clinic Adjuncts

Judy Adkins, Jessica Barlow, Susan Buchenberger, Kayleigh Bullard, Stacy McCauley, Catherine Seifert, Nancy St. Onge, Sommer Wisher.