Dental hygienists in the State of Florida must first meet certain requirements before they start their career as a dental hygienist, which typically begins with earning a degree at one of the dental hygiene schools in Florida. Knowing the laws and regulations to become a dental hygienist, including the educational requirements, prepares an individual for a rewarding career.
How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Florida
The Florida Legislature governs the requirements to work in the field of dentistry, including the regulations governing dental hygienists. Some regulations for an individual to become a dental hygienist, stated in Chapter 466 of the Florida Statutes include:
- The individual must be at least 18 years of age
- The person must submit a completed application to take the licensing exam for dental hygienists in Florida
- The person must submit the appropriate application fee and two recent photographs along with the required application
- The individual must not have been found guilty of or pleaded nolo contendere to any felony or misdemeanor offense related to the practice of any health care profession
Another requirement, according to the Florida Statutes, is that the individual must graduate from a ‘dental hygiene college or school approved by the board, or accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Dental Association or its successor entity, if any, or any other dental hygiene program accrediting entity recognized by the United States Department of Education.’ If a person completes a program at an unaccredited dental hygiene school, there are additional requirements under Florida Law.
Attending one of the accredited programs or dental hygiene schools in Florida likely helps the graduate secure employment as a dental hygienist, compared to individuals that choose a program that is not accredited.
Top 5 Dental Hygiene Schools in Florida
|1||Florida Southwestern State College||Fort Myers, Florida|
|2||Miami Dade College||Miami, Florida|
|3||Gulf Coast State College||Panama City, Florida|
|4||Tallahassee Community College||Tallahassee, Florida|
|5||State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota||Sarasota County, Florida|
The job outlook for dental hygienists shows faster than average job growth, with an expected 13,300 new jobs by 2029. Attending one of these dental hygiene schools in Florida prepares an individual to work in a variety of settings, such as private practice dental offices, clinics, public health departments, government, or medical practices.
Top 16 Dental Hygiene Schools in Florida
Florida Southwestern State College
The Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene program at Florida Southwestern State College prepares students to have a rewarding career as a licensed dental hygienist. The program starts in the fall term of each year. It consists of a curriculum that include general education courses, and dental hygiene courses, along with clinical practice. Students that receive a minimum grade of “C” in each course are permitted to progress in the dental hygiene program.
This school also provides Registered Dental Hygienists with a current Florida license the opportunity to take the state-approved Dental Hygiene Local Anesthesia course.
Florida Southwestern State College has received a 100 percent pass rate on the National Dental Hygiene Board Examination for the past 24 years.
Miami Dade College
The Miami Dade College Associate in Dental Hygiene program prepares students to become licensed dental hygienists that provide direct patient care under the supervision of a dentist. The program is designed for students that want to immediately start their dental hygiene career upon graduation.
Students learn to perform preventive dental care, to remove deposits and stains from a patient’s teeth, to expose and develop x-rays, and to perform a variety of therapeutic services.
Gulf Coast State College
Gulf Coast State College points to the fact that dental hygienists are the first person that patients often encounter at the dentist’s office. Dental hygienists potentially serve as the person who notes potentially serious oral health issues, that may indicate other serious health issues, such as oral cancer, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, or autoimmune disorders. The Dental Hygiene – Associate in Science program provides students with the skills to assess patients, chart the teeth and oral structures, to expose, process and label dental radiographs, and to remove calculus and plaque above and below the gumline.
Tallahassee Community College
The dental hygiene program at Tallahassee Community College is a limited access program with limited enrollment. Prospective students must first complete all application and prerequisite requirements prior to acceptance into the Dental Hygiene Associate in Science degree program.
The traditional format, daytime program consists of 88 credit hours of study which students complete within six semesters. Students learn to safely perform all functions that are required of dental hygienists in Florida, and prepare to sit for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, and the state licensure exam.
State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota
The dental hygiene program at the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota leads to an Associate in Science degree. Students that successfully complete the program are eligible to sit for the National Board Examination, and the Florida State Licensing Examination. The school indicates that passing both exams are required to obtain licensure in Florida.
The curriculum focuses on the technical courses in concepts and procedures, and clinical experiences in a variety of settings, including public health departments, dental hygiene clinics, and community facilities.
The two-year Associate in Dental Hygiene program at Valencia College prepares students to graduate with the knowledge and skills to work as member of a dental team as a licensed dental hygienist. Students learn to perform patient examinations to determine the possible presence of any oral health disease, to provide cleanings, x-rays, and preventive dental care.
Students gain hands-on experience at the fully functioning on-campus dental hygiene clinic. Students also participate in several activities to help enhance their skills before graduation.
Indian River State College
Students that complete the dental hygiene program at Indian River State College are awarded the Associate in Science degree. Students complete a rigorous program at the Fort Pierce, Florida campus, and learn how to properly clean the teeth, how to perform scaling, and to provide other non-surgical care.
The school is proud of the fact that for the past several years, the program has enjoyed a 100 percent graduation rate, a 100 percent pass rate for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, and the fact that 100 percent of graduates found employment as a dental hygienist within nine months of graduation.
Eastern Florida State College
Eastern Florida State College offers a Dental Hygiene Associate in Science degree for students that want to have a rewarding career as a dental hygienist in Florida. The rigorous curriculum consists of general education courses, dental specific courses, and science-related courses. The program also prepares students to sit for the required examinations to become a dental hygienist.
Students that graduate from the program also receive the “Expanded Functions Certificate,” and the “Local Anesthesia Administration Certificate.”
Hillsborough Community College
Hillsborough Community College serves students in the Tampa Bay area, and other areas of Florida. The Dental Hygiene Associate in Science (A.S.) degree program prepares students to perform the duties of a dental hygienist, and to have the knowledge and skills to sit for the required examinations. Students also have the opportunity to complete certifications in expanded duties.
The program consists of five consecutive semesters of study. Topics covered include oral health examinations, x-rays, and non-surgical periodontal therapies. Students also learn how to provide individualized patient education.
Pensacola State College
The Pensacola State College two-year Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene program provides students with the skills to master the clinical competencies required of a dental hygienist, and the knowledge to work in all roles that are expected of a dental hygienist in Florida.
The courses are designed to be completed in sequence. Examples of courses include Preventive Dentistry, Oral Embryology and Histology, Periodontics, and Nutrition and Dental Health.
Florida State College at Jacksonville
The Florida State College at Jacksonville Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene program prepares graduates for a career as a Florida dental hygienist. Students gain the knowledge to promote optimal dental health while working as a member of a professional oral health care team.
Students complete prerequisite requirements, and then proceed to courses such as Preventive Dentistry, Clinical Dental Hygiene, Oral and Dental Anatomy, Dental Hygienists Expanded Functions, and Dental Emergencies. Students also complete several laboratory course requirements.
The school boasts several consecutive years of 100 percent student pass rates on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination.
Pasco-Hernando State College
The Dental Hygienist Associate in Science degree at Paso-Hernando State College is a limited access program that prepares students to work as dental hygienists in modern-day dental practices. Students learn to perform oral health exams and x-rays. They also learn to perform oral cleanings, scalings, to administer oral health treatments, and other procedures as permitted by Florida statutes.
South Florida State College
Students prepare to become licensed dental hygienists as they progress through the dental hygiene program at South Florida State College. The program focuses on the knowledge and skills required for students to pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, and the licensing examination for the State of Florida.
Students enrolled in the daytime, full-time Dental Hygiene Associate in Science degree take courses such as Orofacial Anatomy, Dental Radiology, Dental Materials and Expanded Duties, General and Oral Pathology, and Medical Emergencies. The program further trains students to perform the duties of a dental hygienist in a safe, efficient, and reliable manner in the classroom, laboratory and clinical environments.
Santa Fe College
Santa Fe College, located in Gainesville, Florida, offers an Associate in Science degree program in Dental Hygiene with two options to complete the program. Students engage in clinic commitments along with taking courses in the classroom. Students gain knowledge of the dental health care system, biological and applied sciences, dental public health and other topics.
Students also gain skills in preventive and maintenance dental health, and specialized therapies such as curettage and root canals.
Broward College offers unique 1+1 program for students interested in working in the field of dentistry. Students in the program gain employable skills to work as both a dental hygienist and a dental assistant. This possibly enhances future career opportunities for graduates.
The program requires that students first complete the 12-month Dental Assistant Program, and then apply to the Dental Hygiene program, which means that students can complete both programs within the usual two-year time frame for completing an associate’s degree. Students receive an Applied Technical Diploma in Dental Assisting after completing the dental assistant program, and an Associate in Science degree after completing the dental hygiene program.
Broward College admits a cohort of 16 students in August of each year.
St. Petersburg College
St. Petersburg College recognizes that some dental hygienists want to expand their career opportunities. Once a student completes the Dental Hygiene Associate in Science degree, the graduate has the opportunity to continue their education and earn a Dental Hygiene Bachelor of Applied Science degree. The program is the only baccalaureate degree in dental hygiene offered in the State of Florida.
Students in the online program gain the enhanced skills needed to improve their career opportunities. Dedicated students have the opportunity to enroll in the associate’s degree program concurrently with the bachelor’s degree program. This is not a requirement, which allows students to also complete the bachelor’s degree requirements in the traditional program format.
The State of Florida requires that dental hygienists complete an appropriate educational program to sit for the exams to obtain licensure. We searched affordable schools throughout the state that met this requirement.
Please note that the listed tuition does not include required fees for materials, supplies, or the cost of exam fees.
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