Dental Hygiene is a health profession with primary responsibilities in the prevention of oral health problems. The dental hygienist is a licensed oral health professional who provides patient services that support total health through the promotion of optimal oral health. As a member of the dental team, the hygienist is responsible for providing preventative, therapeutic and educational methods for the control of oral disease, and provision of emergency services. Provision of dental hygiene care to the patient requires application of biological and psychosocial concepts of health and human functioning. Individual patients have the right and responsibility to participate in their dental health care and decisions. The practice of dental hygiene safeguards the patient's right to participate in their care and to comprehensive, nonfragmented dental health care. Dental hygienists provide care to patients of all cultural backgrounds, socioeconomic conditions, ages, and health care conditions in a variety of community based settings.
Dental hygienists use the five step dental hygiene process of care to organize and provide care to patients in a variety of settings. The curriculum of the Department of Dental Hygiene provides the knowledge and skill base needed to complete each step of the dental hygiene process. The steps of the process that form the basis for the learning process and for provision of care are:
The systematic collection of information about the patient's general health, oral health, behavioral patterns, environment, culture and other pertinent data from the patient and/or the patient's family in order to identify the patient's oral health problems, oral health needs, and the ability to participate in the plan of care.
A formal summary statement of the patient's actual and potential oral health problems and/or deficits that can be treated through dental hygiene care.
Identification of dental hygiene procedures and patient activities needed to resolve dental hygiene problems and/or deficits or to prevent the development of oral health problems. The dental hygienist and the patient participate in setting goals, establishing priorities and identifying interventions and outcome measures.
The process of carrying out the plan designed to meet the actual and potential needs of the patient.
Determination of the extent to which the goals specified in the plan have been met and the need for modification of the plan to provide continuous care for maintaining and/or improving oral health of the patient.
As members of the dental health profession, hygienists participate in community action designed to optimize heath and health care in the community. The faculty of the Department of Dental Hygiene foster a commitment to the profession of dental hygiene and professional association activities. The Department of Dental Hygiene is committed to providing a quality educational program that will meet the needs of the professional community and strengthen the profession of dental hygiene.
The Department of Dental Hygiene recognizes students as the major focus and first priority of both the College and the Department. Therefore, the Department faculty strive to provide a variety of quality academic, laboratory, pre-clinical and clinical learning experiences that will prepare students to assume the role of dental hygienist in a variety of practice settings. Knowledge required to practice as a competent, legal, ethical dental hygienist is acquired through a shared learning process. The faculty provide parameters within which the students have the responsibility for learning and promote an environment for effective learning of the profession of dental hygiene.
The program promotes increasing responsibility for critical thinking of students and emphasizes the commitment to lifelong learning as a professional dental hygienist. The learning program of the Department of Dental Hygiene encourages students to attain their professional goals while realizing their individual potential as learners and beginning professionals. Graduates of the program are prepared to take the national and regional licensure examinations.