Graduates must also be competent in providing the dental hygiene process of care, which includes:

a) Comprehensive collection of patient data to identify the physical and oral health status.

b) Analysis of assessment findings and use of critical thinking in order to address the patient’s dental hygiene treatment needs.

c) Establishment of a dental hygiene care plan that reflects the realistic goals and treatment strategies to facilitate optimal oral health.

d) Provision of patient-centered treatment and evidence-based care in a manner minimizing risk and optimizing oral health.

e) Measurement of the extent to which goals identified in the dental hygiene care plan are achieved.

f) Complete and accurate recording of all documentation relevant to patient care.


Educational Preparation   

The registered dental hygienist (RDH) or licensed dental hygienist (LDH) is educationally prepared for practice upon graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program (associate, post-degree certificate, or baccalaureate) within an institution of higher education and qualified by successful completion of a national written board examination and state or regional clinical examination for licensure. 

Definition Of Dental Hygiene Practice

Dental hygiene is the science and practice of recognition, prevention and treatment of oral diseases and conditions as an integral component of total health. The dental hygienist is a primary care oral health professional who has graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program in an institution of higher education, licensed in dental hygiene to provide education, assessment, research, administrative, diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic services that support overall health through the promotion of optimal oral health. 


In practice, dental hygienists integrate multiple roles to prevent oral diseases and promote health. Dental hygienists work in partnership with all members of the dental team. Dentists and dental hygienists practice together as colleagues, each offering professional expertise for the goal of providing optimum oral health care to the public.


The distinct roles of the dental hygienist and dentist complement and augment the effectiveness of each professional and contribute to a collaborative environment. Dental hygienists are:

  • Viewed as experts in their field

  • Consulted about appropriate dental hygiene interventions

  • Expected to make clinical dental hygiene decisions

  • Expected to plan, implement, and evaluate the dental hygiene component of the overall care plan. All states define their specific dental hygiene practice scope and licensure requirements.

Dental Hygiene Programs:

Whether you are just starting out or ready to take your professional career to the next level, ADHA can can help you find a program to match your goals.

Entry-Level Programs

Ready to enter the dental hygiene profession? The following list provides the latest entry-level programs for dental hygiene degrees or certificates. For more on accreditation status of a specific program, please contact the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).


Degree-Completion Programs

Discover degree-completion programs to turn your dental hygiene certificate or associate degree into a baccalaureate degree in dental hygiene or in a related area.


Re-Entry Programs

Find education programs/courses designed for dental hygienists who have been away from the field of dental hygiene and now wish to return.


Master of Science in Dental Hygiene (MSDH) and Related Disciplines

Pursue your dream of getting a master's degree in dental hygiene or related area with the following education programs.


On-Line/Distance Learning Programs

Move your dental hygiene education forward from anywhere with computer or remote learning. All programs listed are offered online.


Dental Hygiene Education Programs and Accreditation

Do you have questions about accreditation, proliferation of programs or want to inquire about what ADHA does when it comes to for-profit programs?

Learn more about accreditation of programs and the ADHA’s efforts.

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All dental hygienists in GA are required to:

Attend and graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) program. CODA Standards for Dental Hygiene Education Programs require that dental hygiene graduates must be competent in providing dental hygiene care for all types of classifications of periodontal diseases including patients who exhibit moderate to severe periodontal disease.