Pre-Dental Hygiene Plan

The UT Martin Pre-Dental Hygiene Plan is designed to prepare students for application to a dental hygiene program.  By following the Pre-Dental Hygiene Plan recommendations, students will be eligible for admission into most Dental Hygiene programs; however, the prerequisite courses required for admission vary significantly from one institution to the next.  The pre-dental hygiene plan recommendations are based on the most commonly required prerequisite courses for entry-level (AAS, AS, or BS) programs.  The courses listed in the plan are intended only as a guideline and students are strongly encouraged to review the requirements for their school(s) of choice as they vary from school to school. 


Please note:  The Pre-Dental Hygiene Plan is not a major and does not fulfill the requirements for a baccalaureate degree at UT Martin.  The courses listed below are recommendations and are not required for degree completion unless also listed under the student’s chosen major. 


Frequently Asked Questions


What does a dental hygienist do?
Dental hygienists are primary care givers for your mouth by providing preventive dental care and education about oral hygiene.  Their job duties include cleaning teeth; recording the presence of diseases or abnormalities; examining oral areas, head, and neck for signs of oral disease; taking and developing X-rays; and applying fluoride and sealants.  Dental hygienists work with a wide range of patients in a variety of clinical settings including private practice, hospitals, schools, and prisons. 


Is there a demand for dental hygienists?
YES! According to the US Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2026.


What degree to do I need to become a dental hygienist?
There are several paths into the field of dental hygiene.  An Associates of Applied Science (AAS), Associates of Science (AS), or a Bachelors of Science (BS) degree are considered entry-level and will provide entry to the professional practice of dental hygiene.  There are also a few Master Degree programs, which prepare graduates for careers as educators, administrators, and researchers. 


Do I have to have a license or a particular credential?
Regardless of your degree, you must be a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) to practice as a dental hygienist.


How many BS dental hygiene programs are there in Tennessee?
Three: the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, East Tennessee State University, and Hiwassee College.


How many AAS dental hygiene programs are there in Tennessee?
Five: Tennessee State University, Chattanooga State Community College, Roane State Community College, Concorde Career College, and Remington College


How long is the typical dental hygiene program?
Two years; however, programs granting a bachelor’s degree often require one to two years of pre-professional coursework prior to beginning the professional program.


Are there any required admissions tests for dental hygiene programs?
Some programs may require the ACT.


When should I apply?
Applications to graduate dental hygiene programs should be submitted in the winter or spring of the academic year preceding the desired admission date.  For most UT Martin students, this means that they will apply during their sophomore year.


Do I have to have a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into a dental hygiene program?


What kind of grades do I need to get into a dental hygiene program?
Most dental hygiene programs are competitive due to the limited number of seats in the class.  A minimum GPA of 2.5 is usually required; however, competitive students typically have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. 


Do I need any professional experience?
Experience as a dental assistant may be advantageous because it will expose you to the field of dentistry, but is not required nor is it expected.  However, it is a good idea to spend some time shadowing a dental hygienist. 


Will I be a pre-dental hygiene major?
No.  The Pre-Dental Hygiene Plan is not a major and does not fulfill the requirements for a baccalaureate degree at UT Martin.  The courses listed in the plan are recommendations and are not required for degree completion unless also listed under the student’s chosen major. 


What should I major in?
In general, students are not required to earn a baccalaureate degree prior to admission to a dental hygiene program; however, for students wishing to earn a baccalaureate degree from UT Martin prior to enrolling in a dental hygiene program, the best major is the one in which you are most interested and the most likely to succeed.  Many pre-dental hygiene students choose the Biology – Organismal Concentration, Biology – Cell and Molecular Concentration, or the Health and Human Performance: Exercise Science and Wellness majors because they include many of the courses listed in the plan. 


What are the minimum requirements for a dental hygiene program?
Some entry-level programs require a set number of prerequisite hours before students are eligible to apply to the dental hygiene program; others allow students to complete prerequisites while also taking dental hygiene classes. 

At a minimum, most Dental Hygiene programs require:

  • 3 hours of sociology
  • 4 hours of general chemistry
  • 3 hours of English
  • 4 hours of microbiology
  • 3 hours of general psychology
  • 3 hours of nutrition
  • 8 hours of anatomy and physiology

Additional courses in English, psychology, sociology, biology, math, Spanish, nutrition, computer literacy, or health and first aid are generally helpful. 


What classes at UT Martin should I take as a pre-dental hygiene student?
While not an exhaustive list, the following courses are strongly recommended for students considering applying to a dental hygiene program.  Students should always check with their advisor and/or school(s) of choice before deciding which classes to take.    

  • Biology 130 Foundations of Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Diversity
  • Biology 140 Foundations of Biology: Cell and Molecular
  • Biology 300 Medical Terminology
  • Chemistry 111 Introduction to Chemistry I OR Chemistry 121 General Chemistry I
  • Chemistry 112 Introduction to Chemistry II OR Chemistry 122 General Chemistry II
  • Communications 230 Public Speaking
  • English 111 English Composition I
  • English 112 English Composition II
  • Health 111 Principles and Concepts in Personal Health
  • Health 220 Advanced First Aid and CPR
  • Math 140 College Algebra
  • Math 210 Elementary Statistics and Probability
  • Microbiology 251 General Bacteriology
  • Nutrition 100 Introductory Nutrition
  • Psychology 101 Introduction to Psychology
  • Sociology 201 General Sociology
  • Spanish 122 Elementary Spanish
  • Zoology 251 Anatomy and Physiology I
  • Zoology 352 Anatomy and Physiology II


Where can I find out more about the field of dental hygiene and dental hygiene education?

Application to Professional Schools

Get information on applying to professional schools

Click Here >


Student Testimonials

See what other students are saying!

Read Testimonials >