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Dental Hygiene

A Career Rewarded by Smiles!
Dental Hygiene is projected to be one of the 30 fastest growing jobs. The demand for dental services will increase as the population ages and as research continues to link oral health to overall health. Opportunities for part time work and flexible schedules are common.
Program Director
Location: ALLIED HEALTH (AH) Room 143
What will you learn?
  • As a dental hygiene student, you will learn how to:
    • Review health histories, examine head, neck, and oral tissues
    • Perform oral cancer and vital signs screenings
    • Expose, process, and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays)
    • Remove deposits from teeth
    • Apply preventive agents such as sealants and fluoride to teeth
    • Teach patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain good oral health
    • Provide nutritional counseling
    • Administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide
What will you do?
  • Graduates are qualified for positions as dental hygienists and may serve in the following roles:
    • Clinician - Provide direct patient care in collaboration with other health professionals in private dental practices, community based clinics, hospitals and long term care facilities, and schools
    • Educator - Use educational theory and methodology to educate competent oral health care professionals in a clinical or classroom setting or as a corporate educator
    • Researcher - Conduct studies to test new products, procedures, or theories for accuracy and effectiveness in universities, corporations, or government agencies
    • Administrator or manager - Apply organizational skills, manage resources, evaluate health programs in clinical, educational or corporate settings
    • Corporate - Product sales and research, Corporate educator
    • Public Health - Enhance access to care in community health programs funded by government or nonprofit organizations
    • Entrepreneur - Initiate or finance new oral health-related enterprises such as practice management, consulting, professional speaker or writer

Why ACM?

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Program Details
A licensed dental hygienist is a health care professional, oral health educator and clinician who utilizes scientific knowledge and methods to provide preventative, educational and therapeutic services to support the control of oral diseases and the promotion of oral and overall health.

The Dental Hygiene program is a two-year, full-time, daytime program that prepares students to take national, regional and state licensure exams in dental hygiene.  Allegany College of Maryland Dental Hygiene Department operates a dental hygiene clinic where students gain clinical experience on site while serving the dental hygiene needs of patients in the tristate area.

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The Dental Hygiene program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association, a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council on Post-Secondary Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation will review complaints that relate to a program's compliance with the accreditation standards. The Commission is interested in the sustained quality and continued improvement of dental and dental-related education programs but does not intervene on behalf of individuals or act as a court of appeals for individuals in matters of admission, appointment, promotion or dismissal of faculty, staff or students.

A copy of the appropriate accreditation standards and/or the Commission's policy and procedure for submission of complaints may be obtained by contacting the Commission at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611-2678 or by calling 1-800-621-8099 extension 4653.

The program has been granted the status of “approval without reporting requirements.”

Admissions Criteria

Program Goals
  • The graduating dental hygienist must use and advance professional knowledge and skills to serve the patient and public using sound ethical judgments based on evidence-based knowledge.
  • The graduating dental hygienist must promote lifestyle changes of individuals and society to attain optimal health utilizing a combination of educational, economic, organizational, and environmental strategies.
  • The graduating dental hygienist must demonstrate the skills necessary to carry out the Dental Hygiene Process of Care which include assessment, dental hygiene diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation of diverse patient populations.
  • The graduating dental hygienist must contribute to improving knowledge, skill, and values of the profession of dental hygiene.

Learning Outcomes
  • Integrate the ADHA Code of Ethics in all endeavors.
  • Comply with all state and federal laws, recommendations and regulations governing the practice of dentistry and dental hygiene.
  • Communicate effectively with individuals and groups from diverse populations both verbally and in writing.
  • Serve all patients without discrimination, appreciating the diversity of the population.
  • Assume responsibility for dental hygiene actions based on accepted scientific theories as well as the accepted standard of care.
  • Provide accurate, consistent, and complete documentation for assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation of dental hygiene services.
  • Ensure the privacy of the patient during treatment and maintain the confidentiality of records.
  • Provide quality assurance mechanisms for health services.
  • Promote and role model to the public preventive health behaviors necessary for optimal oral and general health and wellness.
  • Utilize an interdisciplinary approach to refer patients who may have a physiological, psychological, and/or social problem for a comprehensive evaluation.
  • Identify the oral health needs of individuals and assist them in the development of appropriate and individualized self-care regimens.
  • Assess the oral health needs of the community and the quality and availability of resources and services.
  • Plan, implement, and evaluate community service programs in a variety of settings.
  • Evaluate the outcomes of community-based programs and implement strategies to improve access to care.
  • Evaluate reimbursement mechanisms and their impact on the patient’s access to oral health care.
  • Participate in the public policy and/or legislative process.
  • Provide screening, referral, and educational services that allow patients to access the resources of the health care system.
  • Provide dental hygiene services in a variety of settings.
  • Participate in professional organizations and advance the profession through leadership and community service activities.
  • Identify and participate in alternate careers for dental hygienists in nontraditional settings.
  • Evaluate professional issues and scientific literature in order to make evidence-based decisions that advance the profession of dental hygiene.
  • Assume the responsibility for professional growth through lifelong learning.
  • Promote the values of the profession to the public and other organizations both within and outside of the dental profession.
  • Assessment - Systematically collect, analyze and accurately record data on the general, oral and psycho-social health status of a variety of patients using methods consistent with medical-legal and ethical principles.
    • Obtain, review, update and interpret an accurate medical, family, social, radiological, pharmacological, and dental history, recognizing any health conditions that require special consideration prior to or during dental hygiene care.
    • Obtain and record accurate vital signs.
    • Perform a thorough extra- and intra-oral examination, recognizing abnormalities.
    • Accurately perform an examination of the teeth and record the results.
    • Evaluate the periodontium and identify conditions that compromise periodontal health.
    • Evaluate the need for radiographs and accurately interpret findings.
    • Identify patients at risk for a medical emergency and take appropriate precautions to minimize those risks.
    • Recognize predisposing and etiological risk factors that require intervention prevent and control disease.
    • Assess patient concerns, goals, values, and preferences to guide patient care.
    • Analyze health conditions and medications that impact overall patient care.
  • Dental Hygiene Diagnosis - Use critical decision making skills to identify existing problems, potential problems, etiologic and contributing factors, as well as establish realistic goals and treatment strategies to facilitate optimal oral health.
    • Analyze and interpret the data to formulate a dental hygiene diagnosis in conjunction with the dentist and other health professionals as appropriate.
    • Obtain and document consultations as appropriate.
  • Planning - Collaborate with the patient, dentist, and other health professionals to formulate evidence based, individualized treatment plan.
    • Establish a prioritized, planned sequence of care based on the patient’s health, oral conditions, standards of care, and the patient’s desires for outcome.
    • Discuss with the patient the etiology, prognosis, treatment, and treatment alternatives, allowing for modifications when appropriate.
    • Obtain informed consent.
  • Implementation - Provide treatment that includes preventive and therapeutic services designed to achieve and maintain oral health and assist the patient in achieving oral health goals.
    • Expose, process, and interpret radiographs of diagnostic quality.
    • Adhere to accepted infection control procedures.
    • Apply principles of instrumentation and ergonomics to remove deposits without trauma to hard or soft tissues.
    • Control pain and anxiety through use of accepted techniques.
    • Provide all dental hygiene services that can be performed legally in the state of Maryland.
    • Manage medical emergencies.
  • Evaluation - If implemented, evaluate the effectiveness of preventive, therapeutic, and educational services and modify as needed.
    • Determine the outcomes of dental hygiene services using indices and examinations.
    • Evaluate patient satisfaction with the dental hygiene care received and the treatment outcomes.
    • Determine appropriate preventive maintenance intervals.
    • Provide additional treatment and referrals based on the evaluation findings.

Student Achievement

National Board Dental Hygiene Exam (NBDHE) Pass Rates (first attempt) for previous 5 years

Year First Attempt Pass Rate Overall Pass Rate
2021 93.8% 100%
2020 89.5% 100%
2019 100% 100%
2018 94.7% 100%
2017 94.7% 100%


Dental Hygiene students have won the Maryland and District of Columbia “It’s Hygienic” quiz bowl competition in 2017 and 2018.

Meet the Faculty

Our experienced, knowledgeable faculty and staff are excited to share their expertise with you and prepare you to succeed in the diverse, dynamic field of Dental Hygiene.

Cathy Wakefield
Associate Professor and Program Director

Allied Health 141

A.A., Allegany College of Maryland
B.S., West Virginia University
M.Ed., Frostburg State University

Colleen Heinrich
Administrative Associate

Allied Health 143

A.A.S., Allegany College of Maryland

Meghan Carnell
Administrative Associate

Allied Health 149


Amy Clem
Clinical Instructor

Allied Health 161

A.A.S., Allegany College of Maryland

Tina Courtney
Clinical Coordinator

Allied Health 160

A.A., Allegany College of Maryland
B.S., Pennsylvania College of Technology 

Susan Dom
Clinical Instructor

Allied Health 161

A.A.S., Allegany College of Maryland

Clark Jeffries

 Allied Health 145

D.D.S., West Virginia University

Danean Mullenax

Allied Health 162

A.S., Allegany College of Maryland
A.A.S, Allegany College of Maryland
BA, Frostburg State University

Jennifer Thompson
Assistant Professor

Allied Health 163

A.A., Allegany College of Maryland
B.S. D.H., Pennsylvania College of Technology
M.H.L., Park University

Melanie Michael Vogel
Clinical Instructor

Allied Health 163

A.A., Allegany College of Maryland
BA, WVU Potomac State College

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