15 Best Dental Hygiene Schools in California

This page provides details about the best dental hygiene schools in California that provide the greatest dental hygiene programs.

Have you been looking for the best dental hygiene schools in California? If you want to pursue a career in dental health by enrolling in one of California’s top colleges or institutions, then read this article to learn more.

To provide you with complete and exquisite information, significant research has been done on the best dental hygienist colleges in California. If your major career goal is to work as a dental hygienist in California, you should be aware of your employment prospects.

It might be argued that California boasts some of the top educational institutions in the entire globe, not just in the United States. The state is home to some of the most prominent institutions and universities, which provide the greatest education for any career of your choice.

The need for health professionals in the healthcare sector is currently great. Graduates with medical degrees are more likely than graduates in other fields to land lucrative positions in the healthcare industry.

In this article, you’ll learn more about what a dental hygienist does, how to become one, and the best dental hygiene schools in California.

Why Practice Dentistry in California?

Employment of dental hygienists on a national level is projected to grow by 15% over the next few years through 2028. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Hence, there is a projected surplus of over 1,370 positions for dental hygienists in the not-too-distant future.

Who is a Dental Hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a licensed healthcare professional who works with a dentist to help patients maintain good oral health and dental hygiene. As a dental hygienist, your goal is to prevent and treat diseases that impact the teeth and gums. On any given day, this might include cleaning teeth, examining the teeth and gums, taking X-rays, collecting medical histories, and educating patients on proper oral care.

Graduates having degrees in dental hygiene from recognized institutions are dental hygienists. Besides cleaning teeth, dental hygienists can also teach, do research, and manage organizations.

Academic Requirements needed to be a Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists must graduate from an accredited dental hygiene program based in an institution of higher education. Hygienists must also be licensed in the state in which they practice. Requirements for licensure vary from state to state but generally include successful completion of an accredited entry-level program, successful completion of the written National Dental Hygiene Board examination, a state or regional clinical examination, and a state jurisprudence and ethics examination.

Almost all accredited dental hygiene programs minimally offer an associate degree in science or an associate degree in applied science. Applicants to an associate degree granting institution usually complete mandatory pre-requisite coursework prior to beginning the dental hygiene program. Graduates of a four-year college or university are granted a baccalaureate degree in dental hygiene.

Dental hygienists holding an associate degree have opportunities to pursue a baccalaureate degree through degree completion programs specifically designed to advance their education. Many of these programs are offered in either full-time or part-time options and have online or distance education opportunities. Dental hygienists who have completed a baccalaureate degree can pursue a graduate degree in dental hygiene or a related discipline. Dental hygienists with advanced degrees have broader opportunities for alternative careers within dentistry, dental education, and health care delivery.

Duties of a Dental Hygienist

The average dental hygienist’s duties will vary from office to office and are subjected to unique laws from state to state, as each state has its own unique rules and regulations regarding what a dental hygienist can and can’t do. Typical dental hygienist duties include:

  • Using the appropriate dental instruments to perform routine cleanings
  • Removing plaque, tartar, and stains from a patient’s teeth
  • Cleaning, sterilizing, and organizing dental instruments
  • Reviewing and maintaining a patient’s medical history
  • Taking dental X-rays
  • Inspecting the mouth for signs of oral cancer
  • Checking the gums for signs of gum disease
  • Providing any findings of symptoms of various diseases to the dentists so they can make a diagnosis
  • Educating patients on preventative care and good dental hygiene practices
  • Assisting the dentists with more complicated procedures, like administering anesthesia or removing stitches

Where do dental hygienists work?

Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.

Dental hygienists with a bachelor’s or master’s degree have additional career options which include teaching dental assisting, dental hygiene, and dental students in colleges and universities; administering public health and community-based programs; managing dental practices and health care facilities; and marketing dental supplies, products, and equipment.

What is the Average Salary of a Dental Hygienist in California?

On average, a dental hygienist’s salary in California is a little more than $100,000 a year. Benefits vary from employer to employer but generally include vacation time and some type of health care coverage.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

15 Best Dental Hygiene Schools in California

1. University of Southern California, Los Angeles

The University of Southern California, one of the top universities for dental hygienists in California, is one of the few dental schools in the country to provide both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in dental hygiene. Students who attend the university’s School of Dentistry receive superior instruction in dental hygiene.

Dental hygiene bachelor’s degree
You must finish 76 credits in dental hygiene courses and 12 credits in general education to graduate from this program. The five-trimester course of study includes clinical instruction to expand your understanding of dental health.

The best experiences required to grow a career in oral health are provided by this curriculum.

Dental hygiene master’s degree
Dental hygienists who wish to advance their knowledge of dental hygiene should enroll in this program. The curriculum can be finished in 16 months of full-time study. For those who have other obligations, there is a part-time schedule.

2. The University of the Pacific

University of the Pacific’s San Francisco campus provides an enriching learning environment, with its state-of-the-art facility, an array of dental programs, a dental clinic on campus, and a teaching approach that encourages student-faculty and community interaction. Moreover, its accessible location makes it convenient for students to commute without much hassle.

This three-year bachelor’s program at UOP prepares students with a broad curriculum that incorporates components of liberal arts in the first half of the program, and after that moves to the dental hygiene coursework from the second half onwards. This helps students to develop problem-solving skills, constantly adapt to changes in the dental field and be efficient members of a dental team.

Due to the university’s selectivity, this program also has a minimum high school GPA requirement of 2.7.

3. West Coast University

One of California’s smaller universities for dental hygienists is the West Coast University. The university has 2,510 undergraduate students and is situated in Orange County, Anaheim, California.

One of California’s accelerated dental hygiene programs is offered by West Coast University. You can earn your dental hygiene bachelor’s degree in 34 months if you enroll in this expedited program.

Coursework for the program comprises general education and dental hygiene modules. While the dental hygiene courses are mostly taught on campus, the general education courses are available and can be taken online.

The fastest dental hygienist school in California, West Coast University, offers bachelor’s degrees in a short amount of time.

4. San Joaquin Valley College

One of the smaller dental hygienist schools in California is San Joaquin Valley College. a private, for-profit institution with 1,927 undergraduate students and a total enrolment of 5,275 students in Visalia, California.

To become a valuable member of a dental team within a short duration, the college offers an associate degree that can be completed in 16 months.

You will learn advanced technical skills such as the use of charting software, intra-oral cameras that help show the interior of a patient’s mouth, x-ray techniques, placing of dental and sealants, fluoride, and performing advanced scaling and root planning methods by using various instruments.

The curriculum also includes extensive clinical sessions each term, starting with 8 hours per week during the first two terms and thereon, 12 to 16 hours per week in terms three and four. The program is rigorous in nature, and it is highly recommended that you do not work while enrolled.

5. Foothill College, Los Altos

In Los Altos, California, there is a tiny public college called Foothill College. Foothill College, is one of California’s smallest dental hygienist schools, with 14,732 students enrolled in total.

There are two dental hygiene bachelor’s degree programs offered by Foothill College.

1. Entry-level Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene: 

You must finish the first two years of this program’s curriculum, which consists of general education, science, and social science classes. You must apply for the dental hygiene program after completing the first curriculum. If you’re accepted, you’ll need to finish 107 credits worth of upper-division general education and the fundamental core courses in dental hygiene.

It involves training in dental radiology, oral anatomy, dental health education, periodontics, dental material, etc., and requires an additional two years of study.

2. Dental hygiene Associates to Bachelor’s Degree Program:

This is a bridge program for those who have already completed an Associate degree in Dental Hygiene and are looking at broadening their knowledge base and career avenues. You need to pass 8 online courses in this program in order to graduate. This works well for a dental hygienist who is not willing to keep current work commitments on hold while earning his bachelor’s.

6. Diablo Valley College

The dental hygiene associate degree program at Diablo Valley College lasts for two years. Classes must be attended throughout the day because the program has a full-time schedule.

You must finish a curriculum that comprises general education and fundamental core courses in order to graduate from this program. You can sit for the National and Regional Dental Hygiene Board exams after completing these courses.

When it comes to the admissions process for its dental hygiene programs, Diablo Valley College is quite stringent.

7. Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, California

A five-semester, full-time associate degree program in dental hygiene is available from Santa Rosa Junior College. Through an excellent learning environment, the courses in this program gives students the best professional competence and knowledge.

Before beginning the dental hygiene program, you must finish general education and prerequisite courses.

8. Taft College, Taft

Taft College has an associate degree program in dental hygiene that lasts two years and is one of the dental hygienist schools in California.

Taft offers a two-year associate in dental hygiene. This four-semester-long coursework offers sequential courses that build upon each other. You gain expertise in patient assessment, monitoring the patient and keeping records, evaluating and planning patient dental hygiene plans, dental hygiene interventions, and ethics & laws that are relevant to your dental hygiene practice.

9. Concorde Career College

With 664 students enrolled, Concorde Career College is one of the best dental hygiene schools in California.

An associate degree is the highest degree available at Concorde Career College. In order to graduate from this program, you must obtain 111.5 credits of coursework.

This 17-month-long training divided into nine terms prepares you with workplace-ready skills and knowledge in areas such as extraoral and intraoral exams, periodontal and dental exams, patient assessment, and checking vital signs. The curriculum also incorporates practical training, mainly at the college’s dental clinic where students provide supervised patient care to a diverse patient population.

10. Southwestern College, Chula Vista’s

One of California’s mid-sized dental hygiene colleges is Southwestern College. a public university with 6,403 undergraduate students that is located in Chula Vista, California.

Southwestern College, with its policy of inclusion and diversity, prepares dental hygiene aspirants to competently serve a diverse patient population. Students achieve their academic goals under the mentorship of an experienced and dedicated faculty.

A two-year associate’s degree program in dental hygiene is available through Southwestern College. You must attend up to 60 to 65 hours of class time per week to finish the program’s coursework.

The core dental hygiene coursework consists of 53 credits and includes classes in oral anatomy, dental pharmacology, pain management, periodontics, physiology, dental materials, clinical health, community health, ethics, and regulations crucial to the practice of dentistry.

11. Carrington College

In addition, the University of Southern California is one of the best dental hygiene schools in California. There are additional community institutions that provide excellent instruction in oral health.

In San Jose, California, there is a private for-profit college called Carrington College.

A two-year associate program in dental hygiene is available at Carrington College. The curriculum of the program is meant to help you develop the technical abilities needed to carry out dental procedures such as removing plaque, applying fluoride and sealant, taking oral X-rays, and compiling patient information.

You must complete the prerequisite coursework from an authorized university with a minimum GPA of 2.7 and no grades lower than a “C” in order to be qualified for this program.

12. Sacramento City College

With 4,386 undergraduate students enrolled, Sacramento City College is one of the smaller dental hygienist schools in California.

Sacramento City College provides for a robust foundation in the field of dental hygiene, with a curriculum and teaching methodology that stays abreast of changing trends in the industry. The dental clinic on its campus facilitates enhanced learning by providing real-world clinical experience to students, all this while serving the local community.

SCC’s dental hygiene program is an associate degree that can be completed in two years. It combines classwork, lab sessions, and clinical experiences to take you through a curriculum that includes 39.5 credits of pre-requisite courses and 45.5 credits of dental hygiene courses. Upon completion of the curriculum, you will be eligible to take the national and state licensing examinations. The college recommends that you include algebra, biology, chemistry, and physiology in high school, to be better prepared for this program.

13. Cabrillo College

With 3,201 undergraduate students enrolled, Cabrillo College is one of the best dental hygiene schools in California. The associate degree is the highest level of education available at this public college in Aptos, California.

One of California’s more selective dental hygienist schools is the University of Southern California, and Cabrillo College follows a similar admissions procedure for students applying to its dental hygiene programs.

A two-year associate’s degree program in dental hygiene is available at Cabrillo College. It only accepts 22 students a year, and classes are held full-time, Monday through Friday.

The dental hygiene curriculum covers topics including oral anatomy, dental materials understanding, oral health instruction, dental radiology, dental terminology, periodontics, and dental insurance.

You must have a minimum GPA of 2.7 in all prerequisite science courses and a minimum grade of “C” in general courses in order to enroll in this program.

14. Chabot College, Hayward

A public college called Chabot College is located in Hayward, California. The highest degree provided by the institution is an associate’s degree, and it uses a semester-based structure.

A dental hygiene associate’s degree program is available through Chabot College. You must finish 60.5 credits in general education and dental hygiene classes with a minimum grade of “C” in order to graduate.

15. The Fresno City College

With 6,012 undergraduate students enrolled, Fresno City College is one of the mid-sized dental hygienist schools in California.

This College provides dental hygiene education with the goal to improve the oral health of the community. Students are trained in workplace skills and knowledge through extensive experiential learning sessions.

The full-time, 4-semester dental hygiene associate degree program is offered in a cohort format, meaning you will move through the coursework, together with your peers. To complete the coursework, you must attend classes and practical training on its campus along with clinical rotations at affiliated clinical sites. Oral Biology, oral radiography, oral pathology, local anesthesia, periodontology, pharmacology, dental specialties, and nutrition in dentistry are some of the courses you will take. In order to graduate you must complete all courses with a minimum grade of “C.”


Frequently Asked Questions

In California, how long does it take to become a dental hygienist?

You can complete an associate of science degree in dental hygienist school in California in around 16 months, at which point you can sit for the National Board written test and the State/Regional Clinical Board exam to become licensed as a Registered Dental Hygienist.

What is the ideal degree for a dental hygienist?

A dental hygiene associate degree and state license are prerequisites for dental hygienists. Consider earning a dental hygiene bachelor’s or master’s degree if you want to grow in your career.

In the USA, are dental hygienists in demand?

Dental hygienist employment is anticipated to increase by 9% between 2021 and 2031, faster than the average for all occupations. Over the next ten years, there are expected to be, on average, 16,300 openings for dental hygienists.

Do dental hygienists in California earn a good living?

As of 2021, the average Dental Hygienist pay in California was $109,970 ($52.87 per hour), however, actual salaries frequently ranged from $98,680 to $125,450.


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