Dental Hygiene

The Dental Hygienist is a licensed preventive oral healthcare professional who provides a variety of patient care services. The graduate will be able to work in a variety of settings such as private practice, group specialty practice, hospitals, and schools. After completion of the Associate degree program, graduates are eligible to sit for licensing board exams. The student's clinical experience will span three semesters, including a summer session and will take place at several facilities, including the Harcum on-campus Cohen Dental Center, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Philadelphia VA Hospital, Community Volunteers in Medicine, and Kornberg School of Dentistry at Temple University.

Program Goals: The Dental Hygiene program provides a comprehensive education designed to give students the knowledge and skill to perform as a competent dental hygiene practitioner. The program seeks to create an educational environment that facilitates the development of an ethical, self-directed, problem-solving dental health care professional that is prepared to function within the changing health care system of the future.

Through the utilization of various educational principles and by providing a variety of on-site clinical and community-based experiences, the Dental Hygiene program endeavors to facilitate the development of individuals who will be able to:

  • Provide comprehensive dental hygiene services based on the current standard of care.
  • Be committed to lifelong learning and professional development within the changing environment of the healthcare professions.
  • Integrate knowledge from general education, basic science, and dental hygiene coursework.
  • Incorporate ethical and professional judgment into the practice of dental hygiene.
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills-written, oral and interpersonal.
  • Demonstrate a proficiency in critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-assessment skills in the provision of dental hygiene care.

Prerequisites for Admission:

  • Minimum combined SAT score of 950 (Critical Reading and Math Scores ONLY) A college cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher is acceptable in lieu of SAT scores
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5
  • Completion in the High School level with a "B" or better in: Algebra I and II, Geometry, Chemistry, Biology (with lab) College courses may be substituted for any or all of these courses

Admissions Requirements:

  • Completed Harcum College Application
  • $50 Application Fee (payable with a credit card if you apply online or mail a check/money order payable to Harcum College)
  • Official copy of high school transcript
  • Official college transcript(s), if applicable
  • SAT scores (a College cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher is acceptable in lieu of SAT scores)
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Personal essay
  • TOEFL scores are required for students for whom English is a second language

All application materials must be received by February 15. Notification of Admissions decisions will be mailed in mid-March for all students that have submitted a complete packet.

Students accepted into the Dental Hygiene program must meet the following additional criteria:

  • Medical and legal clearances (or of application in progress). Process for submission of these documents will be mailed to students with their admissions packet (or downloaded here). All forms are managed electronically via Certified Background (see tuition page for additional fees):
    • Child Abuse Clearance
    • Criminal Record Check - Child abuse history will and a criminal record may exclude the student from participation in the clinical component of the Dental Assisting/EFDA program and may prevent the state of Pennsylvania from granting EFDA certification.
    • Current (not older than one year) physical exam
    • Influenza vaccination
    • Two-step PPD test (if positive, chest x-ray necessary)
    • Nine panel urine drug screen
  • Proof of medical insurance is required.
  • Proof of current certification from an approved CPR course, including adult, child, infant and AED, prior to enrolling in Preventative Oral Health Services I. Current certification must be maintained throughout the program.
  • Harcum Placement Tests (Accuplacer). The Accuplacer Exam is given to incoming students that do not have college experience or do not have the appropriate college level English, Reading and/or Math courses for their Harcum program. Students will be notified by the Admissions office if they need to take this exam. All remedial coursework must be completed prior to enrollment in the Dental Hygiene program.
  • Purchase of designated instrument kit and supplies, uniform scrubs (download order form), shoes, name tags, textbooks, manuals and forms packets.
  • Attend the mandatory Dental Hygiene program Orientation.
  • The student is responsible for transportation to/from clinical rotation sites and/or parking fees. Students may need to supplement the patient pool in the clinical education experience.

Admission to the Dental Hygiene program is competitive, and completion of minimum admission requirements does not guarantee admittance to the program. Criteria such as completion of non-Dental Hygiene coursework, cumulative grade point average, and date of completion of minimum requirements may be used in the evaluation and decision process.

Due to class size limitations, the College does not guarantee continuous enrollment between non-Dental Hygiene coursework, the Dental Assisting Certificate program, and the Dental Hygiene program. Should a current Harcum student be interested in the Dental Hygiene program, a new application, along with supporting documents, must be submitted to the Admissions Office. All Dental Hygiene admissions requirements must be met.

Essential Functions

The Essential Functions, as distinguished from academic standards, refer to those physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities required for satisfactory completion of all aspects of the dental hygiene curriculum. The essential abilities required by the curriculum are in the following areas: intellectual, motor, sensory, communication, environmental, and the behavioral and social aspects of the performance as a dental hygienist. These are attributes that each student must possess and the use of a third party for the fulfillment of these attributes is not adequate.

Intellectual: The program requires essential abilities in information acquisition. The student must have the ability to master information presented in course work in the form of lectures, demonstrations, independent study, clinical experiences, written material, material presented through computer imaging and projected images. The student must have the ability to complete reading assignments and to search and evaluate scientific literature. The ability to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationship of structures is important. Further, the student must be able to complete computer-based assignments and use the computer for searching, recording, storing, and retrieving information. The student must have the ability to recall, comprehend, integrate, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize. Problem solving skills are essential.

Motor/Sensory: Student must have fine motor function and the manual dexterity to provide dental hygiene care to patients. Students must be able to negotiate and function in the clinical patient care environment. Functional vision, hearing and tactile sensation must be adequate to perform a clinical examination, including, the gathering of information on texture, color, palpable changes in tissues, and fine changes on tooth surfaces. The student must possess the visual ability to assess and provide services in the oral cavity and interpret radiographs.

Communication: Students must be able to communicate clearly and effectively in both the academic and clinical setting. The student must demonstrate the ability to write coherently, using appropriate grammar, mechanics, punctuation, spelling, and diction. Written communication in the clinical setting must be complete, legible and accurate. The student must be able to verbally communicate in a professional manner with patients, faculty and other members of the dental care team.

Environment: Students must be able to work in a clinical environment and follow required guidelines for infection control. This may include chemical solutions and aerosols for surface disinfection. Protective gloves, masks, eyewear and clinical attire must be worn.

Behavioral and Social: The student must be able to work in a cooperative professional manner with individuals of differing personalities and background. Being able to participate effectively as a member of a health care team is important. Students must possess the emotional health required to complete all academic and clinical requirements and follow appropriate protocol. The student must be able to understand the basis and content of dental ethics. The student must be able to identify the components of professional behavior and perform accordingly. This includes time management skills, communication styles and interactions.


Approval/Accreditation Status

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 on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at 312-440-4653 or at 211 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

Click here to review the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry's licensure information.