Dental Hygiene and Dental Hygiene Bridge Programs (AS)

Dental Hygiene Program Info Packet

Dental Hygiene Bridge Program Info Packet

About the Program

The role of the Dental Hygienist is a challenging and demanding one requiring highly developed critical thinking skills. While the primary focus of the Dental Hygienist is the maintenance of oral health, the Hygienist may also participate in supportive and expanded functions as delegable by the state Dental Practice Act. Preventive and maintenance services include scaling and polishing, application of sealants, x-rays, topical fluoride treatments, patient education,administration of local anesthesia and the specialized therapies of root planing and soft-tissue curettage.

Santa Fe offers two opportunities for Dental Hygiene education: a traditional day program and a bridge program each culminating in an Associate of Science degree in Dental Hygiene. Time commitment to classes and clinics averages 35-40 hours per week. Course work includes knowledge of structure and function of the dental health care delivery system, anatomic, biologic and applied sciences, dental public health and preclinic and clinical courses. Santa Fe offers a multitude of clinical enrichment experiences in settings such as the ACORN Dental Clinic, and various clinics at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, in addition to the Santa Fe Dental Clinic. These diversified settings provide the student with the background and eligibility to take the Dental Hygiene National Board and State Licensure examinations upon graduation.


Santa Fe College initiated a Dental Assisting program in 1970 and added the Dental Hygiene program 1977. Both programs have enjoyed full accreditation throughout their existence from the American Dental Association. Programs have received varying levels of Federal funding throughout their history including Special Improvements in Allied Health, and, Expanded Functions for Dental Auxiliaries.

Instructional efforts are progressive and innovative including the evolution of a Bridge program using the one plus one concept of graduation from an accredited Dental Assisting Program, one year of full-time work experience and adding 15 months of Dental Hygiene. Program entry availability and requirements for Dental Hygiene and Dental Hygiene Bridge are explained in the information packet link located at the top of the page or on the Health Sciences Counseling Office web page.

The Dental Hygiene program at Santa Fe College was established to not only address manpower needs, but to take advantage of the interactive educational opportunities at the University of Florida College of Dentistry. Dentists and Hygienists function with a high degree of interaction and cooperation in the functional practice of dentistry and educational programs should be planned to build in these cooperative philosophies and interactions. The Dental Hygiene student has a large number of clinical experiences at the College of Dentistry to maximize these interactive opportunities. In addition, clinical experiences in the rural setting at ACORN Clinic in Brooker enriches the educational experience and addresses access to care to the health needs of an evolving population.

Since 1977 Dental Hygienists have graduated from Santa Fe's Dental Hygiene Program, and are employed across the United States in private practices, public health facilities, educational institutions, public education systems, dental related research, dental insurance companies, and sales corporations.


The philosophies of the program are as follows:

  • To prepare students to assume the responsibilities of a health care professional and co-therapist in the practice of dentistry.
  • To provide instruction which develops competencies in all of the professional services required of a Dental Assistant and Hygienist and prepare students to continue to develop and maintain professional competencies.
  • To instill in students a commitment to provide quality services to all patients without discrimination.
  • To stimulate interest and encourage students to participate in the development of the professions of Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene, through continuing education, research, and involvement with the professional organizations.
  • To nurture the development of ethical and professional behaviors.
  • To provide an atmosphere where growth and development flourishes and mutual respect exists between faculty and students participating together in the learning process.
  • To provide curricula content which contain the most relevant, current, and accurate theoretical and clinical knowledge.
  • To sequence the curricula to allow for the most logical progression of content presentation, learning, and clinical skill development.
  • To structure curricula to utilize a case-based teaching format thereby facilitating the transfer of didactic material to clinical practice.
  • To ensure that the curricula provide learning experiences which reflect and meet the criteria of national boards/certifications and state regulatory agencies.
  • To strive to meet community and individual needs through innovative curricula development.
  • To recognize the continuously changing needs of society for dental services, and to prepare the student to provide needed services regardless of the patients' age, sex, race, national origin, religion, marital status, social or economic status, and physical or mental ability.
  • To encourage faculty and students to demonstrate behaviors which reflect the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct.