Dental Hygiene Programs in Arizona: An Overview

Arizona is home to a number of dental hygiene programs at various educational institutions, offering a comprehensive range of courses and training modules to aspirants willing to make a career in this field. Dental hygiene involves performing routine cleanings and check-ups, teaching patients about oral health and hygiene, and assisting dentists during procedures.

Dental Hygiene Programs in Arizona: An Overview

In this article, we will take a closer look at the dental hygiene programs available in Arizona, covering various aspects such as program duration, prerequisites, curriculum, costs, accreditation details, and career prospects.

Types of Dental Hygiene Programs in Arizona

There are mainly two types of dental hygiene programs offered in Arizona: associate degree and bachelor’s degree programs. Let’s discuss them one by one.

Associate Degree Programs

Associate degree programs usually span over two years and are designed for students who want to start their dentistry careers quickly. These programs cover basic courses such as anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry along with specialized courses on radiography, pharmacology & dental materials. The practical training portion includes laboratory work as well as clinical rotations under licensed dentists or hygienists. Such programs help you become eligible for entry-level dental jobs or prepare you for further education opportunities.

Here are some associate degree dental hygiene programs offered in Arizona –

  • Carrington College: Carrington College offers an associate degree program which spans over 20 months. The coursework includes subjects such as community oral health promotion strategies; periodontology; pharmacology & pain control techniques.
  • Phoenix College: Phoenix College offers an associate degree program which spans over 2 years., The curriculum provides students with basic knowledge about oral anatomy; patient assessment; professional ethics and jurisprudence related to dental hygiene practice.
  • Pima Community College: Pima Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree Program spanning over two years. It covers topics including general human anatomy physiology, oral anatomy, oral pathology and periodontics & Applied Pharmacology.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Bachelor’s degree programs in dental hygiene are usually more comprehensive and rigorous than associate degree programs. They span over four years and include general education courses besides core dental hygiene subjects. In addition to didactic coursework, students complete clinical rotations in various specialized areas of dentistry such as periodontics or orthodontics.

Here are some bachelor’s degree dental hygiene programs offered in Arizona –

  • Northern Arizona University: Northern Arizona University offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Dental Hygiene program spanning for full-time (four annual semesters) or part-time (five annual semesters) depending on student’s choice. The curriculum covers advanced topics such as behavioral sciences related to healthcare delivery, healthcare management issues etc., along with courses that cover the fundamentals including microbiology; radiography; immunology etc.
  • Arizona State University – ASU offer a four-year Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree Program at its Downtown Phoenix campus. The curriculum is specifically designed to prepare students aspiring for supervisory/management roles within the industry. It covers topics like research methods & statistical analysis, general psychology; public policy formulation; sociology etc.

Prerequisites and Admissions Process

Before applying for any dental hygiene program, it is necessary to research about the pre-requisites set by respective institutions beforehand. Generally speaking, most programs require applicants to meet the following criteria:

  • High School Diploma or GED Equivalency Certificate
  • Minimum GPA ranging from 2.5 – 3.0
  • SAT/ACT scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Successful completion of prerequisite courses including biology; chemistry; physics & mathematics.
    It is important to note that each institution has different admission criteria and processes which can be easily accessed through their websites.

Curriculum and Coursework Details

The curriculum varies significantly depending on whether one is pursuing an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. Here is a rundown of some of the most commonly taught courses in dental hygiene programs in Arizona:

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Radiography
  • Microbiology & Pathology
  • Pharmacology and Pain Management
  • Dental Materials & Techniques
  • Community Oral Health Promotion Strategies
  • Basic Research Methodologies
  • Professional Ethics and Jurisprudence

Generally, the coursework for dental hygiene programs in Arizona also includes extensive clinical training under licensed professionals. This helps prepare students for their future practice as dental hygienists.

Cost and Financial Aid Options

Costs for dental hygiene programs can vary widely depending on factors such as type of program, location, and institution. Typically, associate degree programs are less expensive than bachelor’s degree programs due to their shorter duration.

Here is an approximate estimate of tuition fees (per annum) for various institutions offering dental hygiene programs in Arizona –

  • Carrington College – $33,521 (for Associate Degree)
  • Phoenix College – $2,070 (Arizona Resident), $7,854 (Out-of-State Students) (for Associate Degree)
  • Pima Community College – $ 5,160 (in-state), $ 9,390 (out-of-state) (for Associate Degree)
  • Northern Arizona University – $24,842(in-state), $30,382(out-of-state) (for Bachelor’s Degree)

Additionally there are scholarships/grants available which either reduce or completely cover tuition & other associated costs. Some commonly offered financial aid options include –

  • School-sponsored merit scholarships.
  • Federal Grants or Work-Study Awards.
  • Private loans from banks or credit unions.
  • Scholarship opportunities from professional associations like American Dental Association and National Dental Hygienists’ Association.


Accreditation ensures that a particular program meets set industry standards regarding curriculum structure; faculty qualifications; clinical training etc., thereby ensuring that one’s degree is recognized by employers or licensure authorities. One must make sure that the program they enroll in meets these accreditation standards.

The primary accrediting body for dental hygiene programs in the US is the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), under the American Dental Association (ADA). Before enrolling in any dental hygiene program, check whether it holds CODA accreditation.

Career Prospects

Dental hygiene is a fast-growing field with excellent career prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow by 6% between 2019-2029. Additionally, job opportunities are rising rapidly due to increasing awareness about oral health and demand for preventive dental care services in urban as well as rural areas.

The median annual wage for dental hygienists was $77,090 per year ($37.08 per hour) in May 2020. It’s worth noting that graduates who hold a bachelor’s degree have higher earning potential due to their advanced education and specialized training.

Some of the most popular work settings for dental hygienists include –

  • Private Dental Practices
  • Hospitals and Clinics
  • Public Health Care Agencies
  • Educational Institutions


Dental hygiene is a challenging yet rewarding field with tremendous growth potential. By choosing one of these dental hygiene programs in Arizona that suits your interests, duration preference and financial feasibility, you can embark on a fulfilling career path as a registered/licensed dental hygienist while making significant contributions towards improving overall public health through better oral care practices.


What are the requirements to enroll in dental hygiene programs in Arizona?

To enroll in dental hygiene programs in Arizona, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. They should also have completed prerequisite coursework, which usually includes biology, chemistry, math, and English. Additionally, they may need to submit letters of recommendation and pass an admissions exam.

How long does it take to complete a dental hygiene program in Arizona?

Dental hygiene programs in Arizona typically last two years for full-time students. Part-time options may be available and can take longer to complete.

What courses are covered in dental hygiene programs in Arizona?

Courses covered in dental hygiene programs include oral anatomy, radiography, periodontics, pharmacology, patient care skills and management, and preventive dentistry. Students will also undergo clinical training to develop their hands-on skills.

Is there an online option for dental hygiene programs in Arizona?

Yes, some schools offer online courses for dental hygiene programs such as Rio Salado College which offers an Associate’s degree program that is fully online.

Are there any scholarships or financial aid available for dental hygiene students?

Yes, various scholarships are available specifically for dental hygiene students such as ADHA Institute for Oral Health Scholarship Program & Colgate-Polident Scholarship Program. Students can also apply for federal student aid like Pell Grants and loans through the FAFSA website.

What kind of careers do graduates of dental hygiene programs pursue?

Graduates of dental hygiene programs can work as licensed registered Dental Hygienist(DH) mainly focuses on providing services related to oral health promotion and disease prevention either allow Independent Practice(Direct Access) or under supervision of Dentists. They can work at private practices or public clinics, educational institutions like teaching/faculty positions within a college/university or Health Department as public health hygienists.

Can I transfer credits earned from a dental hygiene program in another state to an Arizona school?

Yes, the process of transferring credits usually involves being assessed by the receiving institution so they can determine which credits are eligible for transfer. It is also best to check with the school administrator beforehand regarding the credit transfer policies and evaluate accordingly.

What is the difference between a Dental Hygienist and a Dental Assistant?

Dental hygienists focus on clinical oral health services like comprehensive periodontal assessments, scaling, debridement & root planing procedures whereas Dental Assistants mainly provide chairside assistance like sterilization of instruments, preparing dental materials, handing over instruments during Procedures.

How much do dental hygienists earn in Arizona?

The mean hourly wage for dental hygienists in Arizona is $37.17 as of May 2020 according to Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS). However, it may vary based on experience and location they prefer working.

Is licensure required for practicing as a dental hygienist in Arizona?

Yes, licensure is required for practicing as a dental hygienist in Arizona. Applicants must complete an accredited program and pass both written and clinical exams administered by the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners before they can be licensed to practice.

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