Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene - Entry-level

Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene - Entry-level


The IU South Bend campus offers the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (BSDH), entry level for those new to the field. The Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. The Dental Hygiene Program is an agency member of the American Dental Educator’s Association and the American Dental Association.

The BSDH program strives to offer a creative curriculum for meeting the current and future oral health needs of society. The curriculum prepares a generalist in professional dental hygiene and serves as a basis for graduate study. The purpose of the bachelor’s program is to produce graduates who think critically, are culturally, ethically, and legally competent; are effective, politically aware, communicators and coordinators of community resources; and are competent providers of health care, professional role models, and responsible managers. The curriculum focuses on health and wellness as well as alterations in states of wellness and viewing persons as part of their environments.
Our students are the driving force behind our program and who make coming to work fun for each one of our faculty. IU South Bend Dental Hygiene program becomes family for each of our students. Hygiene school is like no other program. Classmates and faculty are in it together and will work as a team to make sure each student makes it across the stage at graduation. Students will receive our faculty's undivided expert attention.

The Dental Hygiene Program is dedicated to helping those in need in the region. We conduct several community outreach events throughout the year, all designed by faculty, staff, and students within the program. In 2014 alone, our program donated $167, 000 through Access to Care Day, Dental Access Day for the Center for the Homeless, Sealant Clinic, Head Start Fluoride Varnish program, and Operation Stand Down: South Bend.

IU South Bend has an on campus dental hygiene clinic. Our dental hygiene clinic is open to the public and provides a rich clinical experience with over 700 hours of hands-on patient treatment time for each student. Students will treat members of the Michiana community. With the economic times uncertain, our clinic provides a wonderful service to the community here in South Bend. IU South Bend Dental Hygiene Program has been in existence for 50 years graduating highly trained quality dental hygienists.

We work hard to build and maintain the most highly qualified faculty and staff. Our faculty come to us from a variety of universities all with excellent private practice experience. We have five full-time faculty, including a full-time dentist, available to assist our students. We also have practicing dental hygienists and dentists as adjunct (part-time) faculty in our clinic. These faculty members are vital to the success of our program. They come to us with a variety of patient experiences and a plethora of knowledge of the field of dentistry. Students benefit from the diversity of backgrounds of our faculty and the experiences they bring to our program.

BSDH Program Journey

The BSDH (entry-level) program begins with a mandatory multi-day orientation for all newly enrolled students the Wednesday-Friday the week prior to the start of the fall semester. Students will participate in various team-building activities and learn about important policies and procedures while on campus. While on campus, students will meet their assigned student mentor (referred to as "Big").

An additional mandatory orientation will occur at the start of fall semester for all enrolled IUSB student dental hygienists. This orientation will take place in conjunction with the newly enrolled students on Thursday the week prior to the start of fall semester. Faculty and staff will orientate students to program policies and changes affecting the potential for success prior to the start of the school year. Enrolled students will meet their assigned mentee (referred to as "Little"), and will begin the process of mentorship at orientation.

Beginning fall 2020 the Division of Dental Education will transition to a 3-year dental hygiene curriculum. In fall students will enroll in microbiology lecture, and are highly recommended to complete microbiology lab to aide in student success. Students will begin their dental hygiene education focusing on disease etiology and progression in General Pathology, and continue in spring semester applying the concepts learned in fall to the oral cavity in Periodontics. Students will begin to develop their clinical awareness as they learn about medical and dental emergencies.

Students are expected to complete all clinical medical documentation, including CPR certification no sooner than May 1 at the end of sophomore year.

Students begin the clinical portion of the program in their junior year. Clinical experiences first focus on health assessments with individuals in “well settings.” Clinical hours start with simulation and lab practice on campus. Assessment skills are taught and practiced in the lab on mannequins and student partners. Limited patient care responsibility begins under supervision and students begin to adapt newly learned assessment skills and medical history taking skills to clients in the dental hygiene clinic during their second semester in the program. This year looks at the oral health of individuals and has a strong emphasis on healthy patients and patients in a maintained disease state.

Students will be in clinic an average of 8-12 hours per week treating patients.

Outside activities in this semester may include health fairs (examples include assisting the senior students in community outreach), community health promotion activities, professional meetings, interprofessional education events, professional and second year shadowing, and assisting in other promotional activities for the program.

Students are considered senior dental hygienists at the start for Summer Session I following the successful completion of spring junior year. This year focuses on care of patients with alterations in oral health who are in an active disease state and are in need of complex care. Students provide care for patients an average of 12-16 hours a week.

In the spring semester of the senior year, the student will assess a population, plan, implement, and evaluate a community health program. Students may work alone or in teams to achieve their goals and objectives. This semester students are attempting to find clinical board patients (part of the Commission on Dental Competency Assessment - CDCA). Students may begin to take the CDCA Computer Simulated Clinical Examination (CSCE) CDCA Local Anesthesia Board, National Board of Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE) during this semester. The CDCA Patient Treatment Clinical Board Exam is typically held in the IUSB Dental Hygiene Clinic at the end of Spring semester. NBDHE preparation and review are important in this semester and students are assisted through the licensure, graduation/job selection process.

This semester can have many outside obligations as the student’s professional responsibilities grow. These are individualized to personal interest and the opportunities available. Interprofessional education events continue through the senior year within the program.

Attending professional organization meetings and participating in program events is an expectation of the professional student dental hygienist.

Clinical dental hygiene experiences are designed to provide students with the best possible learning experiences. In order to achieve this it is often necessary to make changes from the published schedule as the clinical rotation nears. Every effort by the dental hygiene program is made to keep these changes to a minimum and to notify students as soon as the changes are known. In general, it is best to keep the following in mind:

  • Clinical courses are arranged between the times of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on any day of the week. Students must be available for assignments between these hours.
  • Clinical courses are scheduled based on the total number of hours required for the semester, and therefore schedules may reflect a more concentrated presentation of hours.
  • The times are subject to change on a week-by-week basis, as dictated by the learning experience.
  • Clinical group sizes need to be as uniform as possible to provide students with the best learning and supervision possible. It is possible that students will be switched between clinical sections after registration in order to achieve this equity.
  • Strict faculty to student ratios must be maintained in all clinical and lab sessions as outlined by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

Degree Requirements


Thank you for your interest in Indiana University South Bend. We're happy for this opportunity to introduce you to the Dental Hygiene Program. We are proud of the professional reputation of our students and graduates. We strive for excellence in the clinic, and classroom. We are a learner-centered program providing various educational experiences including hands-on, activity based, and gaming. The Dental Hygiene curriculum, which is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association, leads to the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (BSDH).

For information about applying to our program, click here.

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