Dental Education

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The Profession

The profession of dental hygiene offers a wide range of opportunities and professional growth. The dental hygienist is known as the prevention specialist. The dental hygienist plays a role in assisting individuals and groups in achieving and maintaining optimal oral health in alignment with optimal systemic health. After all, the mouth is attached to the body.

According to the American Dental Hygienists' Association, dental hygienists provide educational, clinical, and consultative services to individuals and populations of all ages in a variety of settings and capacities. The professional roles of the hygienist include the following:

Through inter-professional and intra-professional collaboration, dental hygienists in a clinical role assess, diagnose, plan, implement, evaluate, and document treatment and education for prevention, intervention, and control of oral diseases. Hygienists can practice in a variety of clinical settings depending on the state practice act and legislation. Examples of clinical employment settings include, private dental practice, community clinics, hospitals, university dental clinics, nursing homes, schools, prison facilities, and mobile clinics.

As the prevention specialists, dental hygienists are highly knowledgeable and trained health promotion specialists. Public health offers career opportunities in diverse settings by serving the needs of those without access to care, adequate education and health literacy, and preventive services. Dental hygienists are able to impact the health and lives of an exponential number of people by working in the public health sector. The diversity of opportunities within public health can provide a lifetime of excitement.

The field of dental hygiene is rich with opportunity for inquiry and discovery. Research is needed to advance the health of the public and the dental hygiene profession. Research conducted by dental hygienists can cover a variety of topics including standards of patient care, patient education and motivation, practice management, clinician ergonomics, epidemiology of oral disease, and so much more. Hygienists have been involved in the research process for new oral care products, dental instruments, and developing and testing new procedures for care. Research hygienists are often employed by colleges and universities, corporations, governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

Dental hygiene educators are in great demand. Colleges and universities throughout the U.S. require dental hygiene educators to use educational theory and methodology to educate future health professionals, beyond dentistry. Businesses also employ educators to provide continuing education courses to licensed professionals.

Corporate dental hygienists are employed by companies that support the oral health industry through education, development, and sale of products and services. Leaders throughout the dental industry often employ dental hygienists due to their clinical experience and understanding of dental practice. Examples of corporate positions include Sales Representatives, Product Researchers, Corporate Educators, and Corporate Administrators.

Dental hygienists in administrative positions are leaders within the dental, health, education, and private business sector. Administrators apply leadership skills to set expectations, communicate objectives, identify and manage resources, and evaluate and modify programs of health, education and health care. The educational background of a hygienist prepares graduates for the multiple demands of leading a team.

Through grit, determination, imagination, creativity, and perseverance my dental hygienists have created successful businesses in a plethora of industries. YouTube Channels, web pages, podcasts, clothing companies, CE provider, practice management companies, professional writer and speaker are all examples of the many successful businesses developed by our dental hygiene colleagues.

Professional Licensure and Certification Disclosure

The Dental Hygiene BS Degree curriculum follows the rules of the American Dental Association’s Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA) in preparing students for a degree in dental hygiene. This degree prepares the graduate to complete professional licensure examinations. Indiana University South Bend Entry-Level Dental Hygiene BS Degree curriculum satisfies the educational requirements for graduates to apply for licensure, as well as local anesthesia certification in the state of Indiana. The School has not made a determination as to the sufficiency of its program to satisfy professional licensing or certification requirements of any other state or jurisdiction. Students should consult the Board of Dental Examiners in their state to confirm if the degree from IU South Bend meets the criteria for professional licensure in their state. Contact information for the Boards of Dental Examiners can be found at

Career Opportunities

Employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for dental services will increase as the population ages and as research continues to link oral health to overall health. The diverse career opportunities of the hygienist offer endless possibilities for a lifetime of employement within and outside of the dental operatory. The median annual wage for dental hygienists was $77,810 in May 2021. (


Faculty and Staff

The faculty and staff of IU South Bend Dental Hygiene program is second to none. Their mission is to see each and every student succeed in the program and their lives.

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The Programs in Dental Education are fully accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation. According to the ADA CODA website, accreditation is the ultimate source of consumer protection for prospective students. Graduation from an accredited program is almost always stipulated by state law and is an eligibility requirement for licensure examinations.

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.

Continuing Education

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 over 53 years graduating highly trained quality dental hygienists.

We work hard to develop and maintain the most highly qualified faculty and staff. Our faculty come to us from a variety of universities 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.

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