Skip to content
Home » Blog » Dental Assistant to Hygienist Bridge Programs

Dental Assistant to Hygienist Bridge Programs

Are you a dental assistant in Chicago looking to take your career to the next level? Have you ever considered becoming a dental hygienist? Dental hygiene is a rewarding and in-demand profession that allows you to promote oral health, work closely with patients, and play a vital role in healthcare. The good news is that in Chicago, you can seamlessly transition from being a dental assistant to a dental hygienist through specialized bridge programs. In this article, we’ll explore these programs in detail and how they can open new doors for your career.

Understanding the Role of a Dental Hygienist

Before delving into the bridge programs, it’s crucial to understand the significance of the role you’re aspiring to. Dental hygienists are essential members of the dental healthcare team, focusing on preventive dental care, patient education, and assisting dentists in various procedures. They perform tasks such as cleaning teeth, taking X-rays, and providing insights into maintaining optimal oral health.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), dental hygienists are integral to patients’ overall well-being, making the profession highly valuable. As a dental hygienist, you can work in diverse settings, including dental offices, hospitals, schools, and public health organizations. Chicago’s demand for dental hygienists is substantial, promising a rewarding and stable career path.

The Need for Bridge Programs in Chicago

For dental assistants aspiring to become dental hygienists, bridge programs offer an accelerated and efficient pathway. These programs are designed to leverage your existing dental assistant experience and transition you into the role of a dental hygienist. In a city like Chicago, known for its thriving healthcare sector, bridge programs are tailored to meet the demand for skilled dental professionals.

One significant advantage of bridge programs is their shorter duration compared to traditional dental hygiene programs. While traditional programs often require two to three years of full-time study, bridge programs can frequently be completed in a significantly shorter timeframe. This means you can embark on your dental hygiene career sooner, saving both time and money.

Chicago Dental Assistant to Hygienist Bridge Programs

Chicago offers a selection of accredited institutions that provide bridge programs customized for dental assistants. These programs acknowledge your prior experience and streamline the transition process. As you explore your options, it’s essential to research and select a program that aligns with your goals and needs.

Malcolm X College Dental Hygiene Program

1900 W. Jackson
Chicago, IL 60612

The Dental Hygiene Program at Malcolm X College in Chicago offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Hygiene, providing a focused educational journey for those aspiring to enter the dental hygiene profession.

Program Mission and Accreditation:

  • Educational Mission: The program is dedicated to educating students in comprehensive dental hygiene care, emphasizing critical thinking and evidence-based decision-making, tailored to diverse populations.
  • Accreditation: The program holds accreditation from the Commission on Dental Accreditation, a mark of quality and compliance with educational standards.

Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens:

  • Health and Safety Notice: Students, faculty, and patients are informed about potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens like HIV and Hepatitis B and C in the dental setting. A clear policy is in place to address these risks.

Career and Salary Outlook:

  • Professional Scope: As licensed professionals, dental hygienists have a range of career opportunities including private practice, public health, education, business, and research.
  • Salary Expectations: The average salary for a dental hygienist with an Associate’s degree is around $77,810, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Admission Requirements:

  • Prerequisites: Applicants must have a C grade or higher in specified courses, including Biology and Microbiology, taken within the last five years.
  • Age and Educational Background: Applicants must be at least 18 years old and a high school graduate or GED holder.
  • GPA Requirement: A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8 in college-level work is required.
  • Application Process: Prospective students must apply online and submit all necessary documentation, including high school and college transcripts.

Application Steps:

  • Initial Application: Applicants must apply to City Colleges of Chicago and submit transcripts.
  • Online Application: Eligible students will receive a link to complete the online dental hygiene application, which includes questions about academic and personal history.

Curriculum and Transferability:

  • Program Overview: The curriculum, which can be viewed on the college’s GPS page, is designed for career preparation in dental hygiene.
  • Credit Transfer: Credits from the dental hygiene courses at Malcolm X College are primarily career-specific and may not be transferable to other institutions. However, general education courses might have more flexibility in transfer.

In summary, Malcolm X College’s Dental Hygiene Program offers a comprehensive and specialized education path for those interested in a career in dental hygiene. With its accredited curriculum, focused on real-world skills and critical thinking, and a clear outline of admission requirements, it stands as a viable option for students seeking a career in this field. However, students should be aware of the limited transferability of specific program credits and prepare accordingly for their educational and career trajectory.

Harper College Dental Hygienist Program

1200 West Algonquin Rd.
Palatine, IL 60067

Harper College’s Dental Hygiene Program offers a structured and comprehensive path for aspiring dental hygienists. This Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree, spread over six semesters, is a full-time commitment that equips students with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Program Highlights:

  • Accreditation: The program boasts accreditation from the Commission on Dental Accreditation, a recognized body of the American Dental Association, ensuring a high standard of education.
  • Impressive Pass Rates: In 2021, the program saw 100% of its graduates pass both the American Dental Association’s National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and the Clinical Board Examination, showcasing the effectiveness of its curriculum.
  • Limited Enrollment: With limited seats available, the program ensures focused and personalized instruction for each student.

Practical Training: Students gain hands-on experience in the Dental Hygiene Clinic, working with state-of-the-art equipment and real patients. This practical approach is crucial for building confidence and competence in clinical skills.

Curriculum and Coursework:

  • Broad Scope: The program covers a wide range of topics, from dental anatomy and radiography to patient care and oral health strategies.
  • Transfer Options: Students looking to further their education can benefit from institution-specific transfer information, aiding their transition to a four-year university.
  • Clinical Competency: Emphasis is placed on developing a strong foundation in biomedical science, clinical skills, professional behavior, and the ability to adapt to emerging technologies.

Admission and Requirements:

  • Application Process: The application period opens annually, with specific criteria outlined for prospective students.
  • Prerequisites: A high school diploma or equivalent is required, with a grade of C or better in key courses such as biology, chemistry, and sociology.
  • Tuition Considerations: The program has a higher tuition rate for specific courses, reflecting the specialized technology and equipment used.

Career Prospects: Graduates are well-prepared for a range of roles in dental practices, public health clinics, hospitals, and even opportunities in sales, academia, and research with additional education.

Program Duration and Schedule:

  • The curriculum spans six semesters, including summer sessions, culminating in a graduation in May.
  • Classes, labs, and clinics are scheduled throughout the week, with some weekend or evening sessions, offering flexibility for students.

Outcomes and Objectives:

  • The program aims to produce competent, ethical, and professional dental hygienists capable of providing comprehensive oral health services.
  • It focuses on patient-centered care, health promotion, and disease prevention, along with developing strong communication skills and cultural sensitivity.

In summary, Harper College’s Dental Hygiene Program offers a thorough and dynamic education for those aiming to become skilled dental hygienists. With its accredited curriculum, practical clinical training, and focused approach, it stands out as a strong option for students pursuing a career in dental hygiene.

Now, let’s dive deeper into the specifics of these bridge programs, including prerequisites, curriculum, and the admission process.

Prerequisites and Eligibility

One of the advantages of bridge programs is that they recognize and value your prior experience as a dental assistant. However, there are still certain prerequisites and eligibility criteria you need to meet to enroll in a Dental Assistant to Hygienist Bridge Program in Chicago:

  • High School Diploma or Equivalent: Typically, you must have a high school diploma or its equivalent, such as a GED.
  • Dental Assistant Experience: While not all programs require this, some may prefer or even require prior experience as a dental assistant. This experience can be a significant advantage as it demonstrates your familiarity with dental procedures and environments.
  • Immunization Records: Many programs may request your immunization records or a vaccination declination waiver to ensure compliance with healthcare standards.
  • Driver’s License or Identification: You will likely need a valid U.S. driver’s license, state ID, or passport to enroll in these programs.

Curriculum and Coursework

Dental Assistant to Hygienist Bridge Programs in Chicago offers a comprehensive curriculum that equips you with the knowledge and skills required to excel as a dental hygienist. Here are some key components you can expect to find:

  • Dental Anatomy: A deep dive into the study of oral structures and their functions.
  • Radiography: Training on taking dental X-rays, a critical skill for dental hygienists.
  • Oral Health Education: Learning how to educate patients on maintaining good oral health.
  • Clinical Experience: Hands-on training in dental clinics, including performing dental cleanings, scaling, and polishing.
  • Operatory Setup and Sterilization Protocols: Understanding how to prepare treatment rooms and maintain a sterile environment.
  • Dental Hygiene Research: Exploring the latest research and developments in dental hygiene.
  • Patient Care: Developing the skills to provide top-notch patient care, including assessing oral health and addressing patient concerns.

Admission Process

Admission into a Dental Assistant to Hygienist Bridge Program is a crucial step in your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist. The admission process can vary slightly between institutions, but here’s a general overview of what you can expect:

  1. Application: Start by submitting an application to the bridge program of your choice. Be sure to check application deadlines and requirements.
  2. Transcripts and Documentation: You’ll likely need to provide your high school transcripts or equivalent documentation. If prior dental assistant experience is required or preferred, you may need to submit relevant proof.
  3. Interview: Some programs may require an interview as part of the selection process. Use this opportunity to showcase your enthusiasm for the field and your commitment to the program.
  4. Prerequisite Courses: Depending on your educational background, you may need to complete prerequisite courses before beginning the bridge program.
  5. Financial Considerations: Explore financial aid options, scholarships, and payment plans to help cover tuition costs and associated expenses.
  6. Acceptance: Once you’ve completed all the necessary steps, you’ll receive notification of your acceptance into the program.

Brighter Smiles in Chicago

Dental care specialists are highly needed in the Chicagoland area. Click below to find a course near you.
Work to help improve Chicago one mouth at a time!