Dental Hygiene Program Frequently Asked Questions

Dental Hygiene A.S. FAQ

Question 1:  Briefly, what are the duties of a dental hygienist?

Dental hygiene is a profession of opportunities. Dental hygienists must have multiple and complex abilities to communicate with others and provide comprehensive dental hygiene care. Hand dexterity and visual acuity are also very important. Traditional clinical duties include the following:

  • performing oral health assessments
  • providing dental health analysis and counseling
  • taking and processing x-rays and performing other diagnostic tests;
  • providing services that help prevent dental diseases; examples include educating patients, applying sealants and fluoride to prevent decay; educating the public on oral health.
  • providing therapeutic intervention such as scaling and root debridement of the teeth with delivery of local anesthetic, application of antimicrobials to periodontal pockets and other disease prevention strategies.
  • performing a variety of expanded functions such as making temporary crowns, polishing amalgams, taking dental impressions, and placing temporary restorations.

Dental hygienists are also seen playing important roles in other areas:

  • community oral health roles
  • consumer advocacy / change agent
  • administration / management
  • marketing, sales, and development of dental products
  • research
  • education

Question 2:  Does your program include Anesthesia training?

Yes! With the change in Florida statute, Hygienists are now permitted to deliver local anesthesia to patients. This training is built into the curriculum within the Pharmacology & Pain control lab course. Graduates of the program will earn certification in delivery of local anesthesia.

Question 3:  Is there selective admission to the program?

Yes, due to the number of applicants, the limitation of clinical space, and the community's need for dental hygienists. You must apply online by clicking here.

Question 4:  How many people are selected each year?

Twelve students are accepted into the program each year. Two applicants are also selected to serve as alternates and two are selected as stand-bys in case an accepted student declines admission.

Question 5:  What are the criteria for admission to the program?

Please see the Application Procedure and the Selection Criteria. Selection is based on a point system determined by the selection committee. 

Applicants must be 18 years of age by the start of clinical courses, which begin the second semester (Fall) of the program.

Question 6:  When will I know if I've been selected /accepted into the program?

The application deadline is February 15th. Applicants who qualify for an interview will be notified about two weeks after the deadline. All Applicants are notified of their final admission status about 4-6 weeks after the deadline.

Status categories include:

  • Accepted (12 accepted)
  • Alternate (2 alternates)
  • Standby (2 standbys)
  • Not-Accepted

Question 7:  If I don't get accepted into the program will I be placed on a "waiting list" for next year?

No. We do not maintain waiting lists! You must apply for the program every time you want to be considered. You must submit a letter requesting that your folder be held-over for the following year.  We recommend meeting with a Health Science Advisor to discuss areas for improvement.

Question 8:  When are students admitted to the program?

Following attendance at the mandatory new student orientation, accepted students are admitted to begin the summer term in May. Two alternates also attend orientation and begin the dental hygiene course work with embryology and histology. Should an accepted student decline, alternates are offered positions in the on-going dental hygiene class. Standbys are then moved into the alternate status.

Question 9:  What is the length of the program?

  • Completion of the prerequisite science courses : Completion time varies.

  • After acceptance, the program will last two years and consist of dental hygiene major courses (six sequential semesters:  Summer, Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Spring). Students successfully completing all course work as scheduled graduate at the beginning of May, 24 months after beginning the program. 

Question 10:  What courses must I take before being admitted to the program?

Program Prerequisites: General Biology, Microbiology, Anatomy & Physiology 1&2, and Nutrition. All must have been completed within the last ten years with a "C" or better.

Question 11:  What courses do you recommend I take before being admitted to the program?

We recommend you take as many of the the general education courses as possible prior to program start. If courses are not successfully completed prior to program acceptance, then they must be completed concurrently with the dental hygiene courses in a specific prescribed sequence. This significantly adds to the student's course load and may detrimentally affect your chances of success. See curriculum link.

A Health Science Advisor can assist you with the prerequisites and creating a plan to have a strong application for program consideration.

Question 12:  Will any of my previous college courses transfer to this program?

An accurate answer can be obtained once EFSC has evaluated an official copy of all your transcripts. Remember, only courses completed with a grade of "C" or better are transferable. Support courses must have been taken within 10 years and dental specific courses within 3 years.

Question 13:  Is it a requirement to complete the Dental Assisting program, before applying to the Dental Hygiene program?

No, it is not a requirement to complete a Dental Assistant program, or be a Dental Assistant, prior to becoming a Dental Hygienist; however, having that experience will give you great exposure to the dental field and will give you additional points towards your Dental Hygiene application. 

An added bonus of completing an ADA-accredited Dental Assistant program is that up to 22 credit hours completed in the program may transfer into the Dental Hygiene AS degree program (if courses are equivalent and have been completed within three years of the program admission date, with a grade of "C" or better).

Question 14:  Does EFSC offer a four-year degree in Dental Hygiene?

No, not at this time. 

Question 15:  Can this curriculum be used to further advance my education towards a bachelor's degree?

Yes, in selected senior institutions depending upon their degree requirements.

EFSC has an articulation agreement that allows EFSC Dental Hygiene A.S. degree students to transfer to the Dental Hygiene Bachelor of Applied Science Degree at St. Petersburg College.

Contact the upper level institution to which you wish to transfer, for specifics. (For information go to or and search for accredited bachelor degree programs. There are options available for on-line completion to a bachelor degree.)

Question 16:  What time of the day are classes offered?

Dental Hygiene classes are generally held during daytime hours but may include evening classes. Science support courses and general education requirements may be taken during the evenings, on weekends, or possibly through televised or online courses. Refer to the EFSC course schedules for availability during a specific term.

Question 17:  How can I attend the program part time?

Completing the EFSC Dental Assisting Program prior to beginning the Dental Hygiene program, allows the student to carry a part-time academic load during the first two semesters. Beyond that, the program is only full-time.

Question 18:  Are students able to work while enrolled in the Program?

Yes, but working over 20 hours per week is not recommended especially if you have other family obligations.

Question 19:  Are vaccinations, background checks and drug screen required?

Yes, this is required after acceptance. Specific information is provided at orientation and at the EFSC website. See medical history & background screening.

Question 20:  What is the cost of the program?

See Estimated Expenses link.

Tuition is charged per credit hour. Refer to the College's current fee schedule for the specific amounts and lab fees.

There are 88 credit hours of required course work in the program. Additional costs include books, uniforms, radiology equipment, instruments, background check/ drug testing, liability and accident insurance as well as graduation and licensure fee. The College does not provide housing and the student is responsible for transportation to and from assigned hospitals or health agencies for clinical / community course work.

Question 21:  Is financial aid available?

Yes. Hygiene students are eligible for the same financial assistance programs offered to other EFSC students. There are dental specific scholarships available for qualified student once students are taking the hygiene courses. Visit the Financial Aid & Scholarships section of the website for more information.

Question 22:  Do I wear a uniform all the time?

No, only during clinical and laboratory sessions. Both a uniform and lab coat are worn. Specific instructions concerning accepted color and style of uniform is given at the mandatory new student orientation.  Lab coats are ordered with embroidered college logo and student name.

Question 23:  Is the program accredited?

Yes. The program in dental hygiene is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312) 440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. The Commission’s web address is: 

Question 24:  When can I expect to be employed as an RDH?

Upon successful completion of a written National Dental Hygiene Board Examination and graduation, you will be eligible for licensure. Licensure is required for all dentists and hygienists in each of the 50 states. A written jurisprudence and a clinical examination are required for licensure to practice dental hygiene in the state of Florida. While awaiting licensure, you can work as a dental assistant; the 'expanded functions for dental auxiliaries' certificate' is awarded at Dental Hygiene program completion. Certification in Local Anesthesia is included within the educational program.

Question 25:  How can I decide if Dental Hygiene is the career choice for me?

Dental hygienists are nurturing professional as well as critical thinkers who work in many settings. The rigorous educational background that is required for licensure becomes your future foundation. As dental hygienists, you can enjoy the rewards of personally helping others and maximize your potential as a health team member. You can make a difference!

For more information, please consider the following options:

a. Write to the American Dental Hygienists' Association to obtain available literature, including a list a accredited Dental Hygiene Programs. The website has much information about the profession and its future.

American Dental Hygienists' Association
444 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611

b. Visit the local public library or the Dental section of the EFSC/UCF Library on the Cocoa Campus to seek material about the dental hygiene profession. A video is available from Project SELECT for you to view. Also trade journals and magazines are available.

c. Visit web sites to seek information on dental topics:

d. Experience clinical education in action. Make an appointment to have your oral preventive maintenance (teeth cleaned) at the Dental Hygiene Clinic (321)433-7570.

e. Speak with your own dentist and dental hygienist.

f. Spend a few days "observing" in a dental office in which a dental hygienist is employed.

g. Work in a dental office as a dental assistant or dental receptionist to gain a better understanding of the dental environment.

h. Converse with friends who are already attending a dental hygiene program or those who have graduated.

i. Talk with family members or friends who are part of the dental health team.

j. Talk with a Health Science Advisor (Cocoa Campus, building 20, room 233 or Melbourne Campus, Building 15, room2).

k. Visit EFSC's Career Planning & Development Center, at your local EFSC campus.