Dental Hygiene

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Why Become a Registered Dental Hygienist?

Dental hygienists have a good job outlook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of dental hygienists will grow at a rate of 11% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average growth rate of 5% for all occupations¹. This career has several more pros, too:

  1. It can offer flexible hours: Many dental hygienists work part time, according to the BLS².
  2. Dental hygienists earn a decent wage: The national median annual wage in May 2018 was $74,820³. Dental hygienists in California reportedly earned even more, with a $100,830 annual mean wage³.

If you’re interested in becoming a dental hygienist, SJVC’s Dental Hygiene program can help you begin your career in as few as 16 months!

Benefits of SJVC’s Dental Hygienist Program

  • Comprehensive instruction
  • Small class sizes
  • High National and Clinical Board licensure exam pass rates
  • Accreditation by ADA-CODA

SJVC’s Ontario and Visalia campuses offer the Dental Hygiene program. Each campus houses a fully equipped clinic for dental hygienist students, enabling them to get hands-on instruction working with actual patients and gain real-world experience while completing their studies. All services performed at the dental hygiene clinic are provided by dental hygiene students under the direct supervision of dental hygienists and/or supervising dentists. View SJVC’s Dental Hygiene clinics’ Policy on Bloodborne Pathogens.

Admissions Requirements for Dental Hygiene Students

Applicants for SJVC’s Dental Hygiene program must have completed the following prerequisite courses:

  • General/Inorganic Chemistry (with wet lab)
  • Organic/Biochemistry (with wet lab)*
  • General Microbiology (with wet lab)*
  • Human Physiology (with wet lab)
  • Public Speaking or Oral Communication
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Human Anatomy (with wet lab)
  • Writing and Composition
  • General Psychology
  • Intermediate Algebra or higher (not included in the minimum GPA requirements for entry into the program)
    *The College will offer BIOL14 and CHE4 courses to students who meet all other program prerequisites, contingent on sufficient number of enrollments.

Prerequisites must be completed at an institution accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and students must have a GPA of 2.75 or higher (GPA calculation excludes mathematics). Science courses must have been completed within the past seven years.

Applicants must also meet the technical standards to be considered for the program. Technical standards provide a reference against which candidates for enrollment to the program are evaluated by the Admissions Committee in the selection of students for the Dental Hygiene program.

Dental Hygiene Licensure Board Pass Rates

Students in the Dental Hygiene program must take licensure exams in order to be registered to practice as a dental hygienist in California.

The first-time test taker licensure exam pass rates for SJVC graduating classes from 2019 back to 2015 are:

CampusGraduation DateNational Board First-Time
Pass Rate % (NBDHE)
Clinical Board First-Time
Pass Rate % (WREB)
VisaliaMay 2019Pending100%
OntarioFeb. 201972%100%
VisaliaSept. 201881%100%
OntarioMay 201890%100%
VisaliaJan. 201893%100%
San DiegoNov. 2017100%100%
OntarioSept. 2017100%95%
VisaliaMay 201786%100%
San DiegoMarch 201794%100%
OntarioJan. 201794%94%
VisaliaSept. 2016100%100%
San DiegoJuly 2016100%100%
OntarioMay 2016100%100%
VisaliaJan. 201691%100%
San DiegoNov. 201594%94%
OntarioSept. 201592%100%
VisaliaMay 2015100%100%
San DiegoMarch 2015100%88%
OntarioJan. 2015100%96%


How to Enroll in SJVC’s Dental Hygienist Program

If you’re ready to begin your training to work as a dental hygienist, contact SJVC today by requesting more information or calling 866-544-7898. Once we get in touch, an Admissions Representative can help you learn more about the application, application deadlines and upcoming program start dates.




Dental Hygiene Program Details

Skills Students Learn

Our Dental Hygiene students learn:

  • Computerized dental management/charting software
  • Interim Therapeutic Restoration (ITR) placement
  • Intra-Oral cameras
  • Digital and traditional X-ray techniques
  • Hand and ultrasonic instruments for advanced scaling and root planing methods

Program Course Examples

Courses* taken by our Dental Hygiene students include:

Dental Health Education
This course covers the principles and practices of prevention and control of dental disease with emphasis on plaque control, motivation and chair-side patient education. A grade of “C” or better is required to earn credit for this course.

Oral Biology with Lab
This course covers the study of embryology and histology of oral structural formation, clinical recognition of normal oral structures, the physiological and structural functions of teeth and supporting tissues, and oral anatomy relative to the proper dental hygiene procedures. A grade of “C” or better is required to earn credit for this course.

Oral Radiology with Lab
These courses provide the didactic, laboratory and clinical learning experiences to enable the student to distinguish the normal anatomical features of the oral cavity as they appear radiographically. Normal and pathological conditions, placing film for x-rays, and analyzing the quality of exposed radiographs will be covered. A grade of “C” or better is required to earn credit for this course.

*Course listings are subject to change. Reference the SJVC College Catalog for the  most current program information.

Program Outcomes

Our Dental Hygiene students can earn an associate of science degree in approximately 16 months.

Graduates also are eligible to take the National Board written examination and a State and/or Regional Board Examination for licensure as a Registered Dental Hygienist.

Career Opportunities

Our Dental Hygiene training prepares graduates to work in private dental offices and enjoy a high salary, flexible hours and a professional work environment. Other career opportunities include working in public health agencies, clinics and nursing home facilities, and clinical teaching.

On the job, registered dental hygienists can expect to:

  • Evaluate medical and dental health histories
  • Provide periodontal therapy by removing stains, plaque and calculus from teeth
  • Expose & process dental X-rays
  • Place interim therapeutic restorations, dental sealants, fluoride, varnish and tooth desensitizing agents

Application Process

The Dental Hygiene Program has a highly-selective application process in which only the most qualified applicants are chosen to fill 30 available seats per cohort start. Applicants are ranked based on several criteria, including GPA, work experience, admissions assessments and a personal interview with the admissions team.

Admission is determined based on a point scale of the following categories:

  • Postsecondary education (Attainment, GPA)
  • Healthcare work experience
  • Accuplacer reading comprehension exam, to be administered during the application process
  • Application panel interview

Applicants with the highest number of points will be selected for available seats with five alternates for each student cohort.

Download the application information packet for SJVC’s Dental Hygiene program.

Official transcripts from all regionally accredited institutions attended must be included with the application. Transcripts of all completed prerequisite courses must be sent to SJVC by the application deadline.

A two-page written personal statement explaining why the applicant wants to become a dental hygienist must also be submitted with the application, along with two letters of recommendations from individuals knowledgeable of and able to evaluate applicant’s potential to complete a course of study in dental hygiene.

Qualified candidates will be considered for invitation to interview with the selection committee.

Foreign Institutions
Applicants who have completed coursework outside of the United States must have their transcripts evaluated by the International Education Research Foundation, Inc. (IERF) or equivalent organization. An official copy of the Academic Detailed Report from IERF or an equivalent organization must be included with the application. All applicants must include course descriptions of prerequisite coursework in the application packet.

Program Start Dates

Upcoming start dates for the SJVC Dental Hygiene program:

CampusCohort StartApplication Deadline
OntarioJune 15, 2020April 13, 2020
VisaliaFebruary 18, 2020December 24, 2019


The Dental Hygiene program is 16 months in length (four 16-week terms), and the classes meet Monday – Thursday, 8:00am – 5:00pm, and Fridays as needed.

It is recommended that students do not work while enrolled in the Dental Hygiene program. No special concessions are granted for working students.

Clinical Hours
Students in the dental hygiene program experience an increasing number of clinical hours as they progress through the program in order to obtain clinical competence. First-year dental hygiene students receive eight hours of pre-clinical training per week during their first term, followed by eight hours of clinical experience during their second term. During the second academic year, terms 3 and 4, students are scheduled for twelve and sixteen hours per week, respectively.

Accreditation and Approvals

The Dental Hygiene program is accredited by The American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and has been granted the accreditation status of “approval without reporting requirements.” The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education.

The SJVC Dental Hygiene program is approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs,  Dental Hygiene Board of California.

Commission on Dental Accreditation
211 East Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611-2678
(312) 440-4653 |

Department of Consumer Affairs, Dental Hygiene Board of California (DHBC)
2005 Evergreen Street, Ste. 2050
Sacramento, CA 95815
Phone: (916) 263-1978 Fax: (916) 263-2688 |

Institutional Accreditation

San Joaquin Valley College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 10 Commercial Blvd., Suite 204, Novato, CA 94949, (415) 506-0234, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Additional information about accreditation, including the filing of complaints against member institutions, can be found at

Questions or requests to review documents pertaining to accreditation should be directed to:

Crystal G. VanderTuig, Accreditation Liaison Officer
San Joaquin Valley College
3828 West Caldwell Avenue, Visalia, CA 93277
(559) 734-9000

State Approvals

SJVC is a private institution and is approved to operate as an accredited institution by the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). Approval to operate means that SJVC has been found in compliance with the standards set forth in the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (as amended) and Title 5, Division 7.5, – Private Postsecondary Education of the California Code of Regulations. As a prospective student, you are encouraged to review this catalog prior to signing an enrollment agreement. You are also encouraged to review the School Performance Fact Sheet, which must be provided to you prior to signing an enrollment agreement.

A student or any member of the public may file a complaint about this institution with the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education by calling (888) 370-7589 or by completing a complaint form, which can be obtained on the Bureau’s internet website (

View additional State Approvals for SJVC.