Dental Hygiene

Train to Work as a Registered Dental Hygienist

SJVC’s Dental Hygiene program prepares students to work as registered dental hygienists. Benefits of this program include comprehensive instruction, small class sizes, high board pass rates and accreditation by ADA-CODA.

Dental Hygiene Program Details

Skills Students Learn

Our Dental Hygiene students learn:

  • Computerized dental management/charting software
  • CAESY (Clinically Advanced Education Systems) computerized patient education
  • 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.

*Students will take additional program courses on top of the three listed courses. Courses may vary by program, credential level and campus.

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.

Program Availability

SJVC’s Dental Hygiene program is available at the following campuses:

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:

  • Perform clinical exams
  • Remove stains, plaque and calculus from teeth
  • Expose & process dental X-rays
  • Administer local anesthetics and nitrous oxide sedation
  • Conduct intra and extra oral cancer screenings
  • Counsel patients on oral hygiene

Admission Requirements and Prerequisites

Prerequisite Courses:

  • General/Inorganic Chemistry (with lab)
  • Organic/Biochemistry (with lab)*
  • General Microbiology (with lab)*
  • Human Physiology (with lab)
  • Speech/Oral Communication
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Human Anatomy (with 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. View technical standards. 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.

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:

Campus Visalia Ontario
Cohort Start Oct 1 2018 Jun 4 2018
Application Deadline Aug 1 2018 May 15 2018


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.

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.

SJVC students who took the licensure exams between 2012 and 2016 have an average pass rate of 96.3% for the National Board exam, and an average pass rate of 96.3% for the Clinical Board exam.

Campus Graduation Date National Board Pass Rate % Clinical Board Pass Rate %
Visalia Jan 12 81.3 100
Ontario May 12 100 96.3
Visalia Sept 12 100 94
Ontario Jan 13 96 92
Visalia May 13 100 92
Ontario Sept 13 100 95
Visalia Jan 14 91 100
Ontario May 14 95 95
San Diego Jul 14 89 89
Visalia Sept 14 100 95
Ontario Jan 15 100 96
Visalia May 15 100 100
Ontario Sept 15 92 100
Ontario May 16 100 100
San Diego Jul 16 100 100
AVERAGE 96.3 96.3

Accreditation and Approvals

The Dental Hygiene program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation 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.

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

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

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 (California Education Code, Title 3, Division 10, Part 59, Chapter 8) and Title 5, Division 7.5 – Private Postsecondary Education of the California Code of Regulations.

Any questions that a student may have regarding the college catalog and/or catalog supplement that have not been satisfactorily answered by the institution may be directed to the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education at:

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 980818
West Sacramento, CA 95798-0818

Physical Address
2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 400
Sacramento, CA 95833

Telephone Numbers
Toll free (888) 370-7589
(916) 431-6959

Fax Number
(916) 263-1897


View additional State Approvals for SJVC.