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Dental Hygiene Program

I. Introductory Information

A. A registered dental hygienist is a preventive oral health professional licensed in dental hygiene who provides preventive, educational, and therapeutic services supporting total health through the promotion of optimal oral health.

B. The Dental Hygiene Program is a two-year degree program and includes a summer session. Upon completion of the program, graduating students will receive an Associate in Arts Degree in Dental Hygiene and will qualify to take the National Board Examination and a Regional Clinical Dental Hygiene Dental Hygiene Examination. Successful passage of these examinations qualifies the graduate to take the California Law and Ethics exam and apply for licensure to practice in the state of California.
For additional information regarding the current Regional Clinical Dental Hygiene Examination, regarding which states accept which exam, please visit the following websites:
  • Central  Regional Dental Testing Service  (CRDTS)
  • Western Regional Examination Board  (WREB)
  • American Board of Dental Examiners  (ADEX)

C. A career in Dental Hygiene offers multiple opportunities in a variety of settings. A registered dental hygienist may work in such practice settings as: private dental offices and dental clinics; federal, state and local health departments or associated institutions; hospitals and nursing homes; school districts or departments of education; educational programs for dental, dental hygiene and dental assisting students; private business/industry; correctional facilities; private and public centers for pediatric, geriatric and other individuals/groups with special needs; or health maintenance organizations.

D. During the training program, most of the clinical courses are held at extended facilities. These facilities may be located approximately 10 to 30 miles from Cerritos College. The students must furnish their own transportation. Carpooling is encouraged whenever possible.

E. The Dental Hygiene Program begins in the fall semester (August) of each year. The majority of courses will be scheduled during the day; however, some of the required courses may extend into the evening hours. All Dental Hygiene courses must be taken in sequence.

F. See Cerritos College catalog for current tuition and enrollment fees. In addition, the student may expect to spend approximately $13,000 for books, instruments, equipment, uniforms and miscellaneous fees and immunizations. Students are strongly encouraged to join the Student American Dental Hygienists' Association (SADHA) ($65 annually). Fees are subject to change. Consult Admissions and Records regarding changes in tuition, enrollment and lab fees. See the College Financial Aid office for information regarding the many student scholarship/loans available. Once in the dental hygiene program, opportunities for additional student funds are available from several sources.

G. The application packet for the Dental Hygiene Program can be obtained online at - in the search box type in Dental Hygiene and follow the prompts from there.

H. To be considered for admission to the Dental Hygiene Program in August, the application with all the supplementary documentation (unofficial transcripts, work-in-progress, verification of related work experience, attendance of an application workshop, copy of RDA or RDAEF license and registration, if applicable) are to be mailed to the Health Occupations Division ,post marked no later than April 1 (of the year of application). Questions other than those regarding coursework equivalency, should be directed to the Dental Hygiene Program. Faxed application materials will not be accepted.
II. Minimum requirements to be considered as a qualified applicant for the Dental Hygiene Program
A. Satisfactory scores on the Cerritos College Assessment Tests Battery or clearance in  English, Mathematics and Reading achieved by taking and passing the appropriate college course(s).
1. English Clearance: ENGL 100 or equivalent with a grade of "Pass" or "C" or higher
2. Mathematics Clearance: 

a. Earn a score on the Advanced math Readiness test sufficient for placement in a course above the level of Math 80, or Math 80B

b. Complete Math 80 or Math 80B with a grade of "Pass" or "C" or higher

c. Mathematics clearance may be verified by an equivalent (or higher) Mathematics course taken at another accredited College/University. For other options, contact a counselor.

3. Reading Clearance:

a. Complete the Reading Proficiency Test at a level above Read 54

   b. Complete Read 54 with a grade of "Pass" or "C" or higher

        c. An Associate Degree or Baccalaureate Degree earned           from an accredited College/University

B. A valid CPR certification, including health care provider cardiopulmonary resuscitation with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), is required prior to enrolling in Dental Hygiene Program courses and must be kept current. CPR courses approved by the state board are given through the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross.

C. Physical examinations, immunizations, TB testing and background checks are required prior to patient care and taking the licensure examinations. Health and immunization forms will be issued to those applicants who are accepted into the program. Dental health professionals may be exposed to contagious diseases therefore strict compliance with CDC and OSHA standards are maintained. Policies on bloodborne and infectious diseases are available upon request from the Dental Hygiene Department or can be found on the Dental Hygiene website. 

D. Applicants desiring employment in dental hygiene are required to have good vision and the ability to communicate verbally. In addition, applicants must have the capacity to comprehend, analyze, evaluate and record in patients' charts, and have the dexterity to use small dental instruments to provide dental hygiene care.  Please refer to Technical Standards/Essential Functions found on the dental hygiene website at

E. Prerequisite course requirements:

1. All prerequisite courses (CHEM 100, A&P 200, A&P 201 or A&P 150 and A&P 151, MICRO 200, HO 152) MUST BE COMPLETED OR BE IN PROGRESS NO LATER THAN THE APRIL 1 APPLICATION DEADLINE. Priority will be given to individuals who have completed all prerequisites prior to application.

2.  Prerequisite courses must be completed with a minimum grade of "C" or better in each course.
a. CHEM 100 Introductory Chemistry - 4 units

Class hours: 3 lecture, 2 lab.  Prerequisite: MATH 40 with grade of "C" or higher or satisfactory score on Basic Math Readiness Test.Recommendation: It is strongly recommended that the preceding prerequisite be completed within four years prior to the date of enrollment in CHEM 100.NOTE: CHEM 100 is an introduction to the basic principles of inorganic and organic chemistry and biochemistry. Transfer students must be sure an equivalent course or combination of courses covers these three basic principles.

b. A&P 200 Human Anatomy - 5 units
Class hours: 3 lecture, 4 lab
Prerequisite: Another course in Biology, Anatomy and Physiology with grades of Credit or "C" or higher.

c. A&P 201 Human Physiology - 5 units
Class hours: 3 lecture, 4 lab
Prerequisite: A&P 200 and Chemistry with grades of Credit or "C" or higher or concurrent enrollment in a Chemistry course.
****A&P 150 & 151 may be substituted for A&P 200 & 201

d. MICR 200 Introduction to Microbiology and Bacteriology -  5  units
Class hours: 3 lecture, 6 lab
Prerequisite: A previous chemistry course or BIOL 20, ZOOL 20 with grades of Credit or "C" or higher or equivalent of College General Biology Course.

e. HO 152 Nutrition - 3 units
Class hours: 3 lecture
Prerequisite: None
Recommendation: A&P 130, (A&P 200 and A&P 201 for Dental Hygiene applicants) with a grade of Credit or "C" or higher or equivalent.

NOTE: An equivalent nutrition course must include bio-chemistry and therapeutic diet.

3. Applicability of transfer equivalent course work must be verified by Cerritos College. The transfer applicant should contact a Health Occupations Counselor prior to taking prerequisite courses in order to assure that appropriate equivalent courses are selected.

4. Factors such as elapsed time since a course was completed and grades will be used in determining whether previously completed science course(s) can be accepted towards fulfillment of a prerequisite. Five years is usually considered maximum elapsed time.

5. Graduates of foreign dental and dental hygiene programs will not be given priority. Recency of coursework still applies.
6.  In an attempt to increase eligibility by repeating a prerequisite course to obtain a higher grade, the Dental Hygiene department will allow any prerequisite course to be repeated a maximum of ONE time, and will accept the higher of the two grades earned.


G. A Medical terminology course is strongly suggested.

III. Admission Procedure and Requirements

A. Cerritos College Admissions

If not presently enrolled in courses at Cerritos College, apply for admission to the college at the Admissions and Records Office in the Administration Building, or online at  You will be assigned a student number which you will need to attend an application workshop.  Questions, other than those addressing coursework equivalency, should be directed to the Dental Hygiene Program.


B. Preliminary Transcript Evaluation

1. In order to apply to the dental hygiene program, the applicant must see a Cerritos College Dental Hygiene Counselor.  The applicant should contact the counseling receptionist desk, 562-860-2451 x2231, to make an appointment or sign up for an application workshop. Questions, other than those regarding coursework equivalency, should be directed to the Dental Hygiene Program.

2. The Preliminary Transcript Evaluation must be completed and signed by a Health Occupations Counselor, by the deadline date, verifying the following:

a. English, Intermediate Algebra and Reading clearance

b. Prerequisite course requirements with a grade of "C" or better in each course.

c. General education courses required for the Cerritos College Associate of Arts degree

d. To complete this procedure, the student must have official transcripts from ALL  previously attended colleges and documentation of courses in progress.

C. Once you have been admitted into the Dental Hygiene program you will need to submit official transcripts to Admissions and Records.


D. Work Experience

For every related work experience listed on the application, a Verification of Dental Employment form must be completed and mailed to the Health Occupations Division Office. Additional forms are available upon request in the Health Occupations Division Office. Letters of recommendation are not considered.

E. Dental Hygiene Application and Supporting Documentation

The applicant is responsible for making sure the Dental Hygiene application, preliminary transcript evaluation, verification of dental employment forms, copy of RDA or RDAEF license (if applicable), all college transcripts and verification of work-in-progress have been received in the Health Occupations Division office by APRIL 1 (of the year of application). All inquiries should be directed to the Health Occupations division office.

Direct to: Cerritos College
Health Occupations Division
Dental Hygiene Department
11110 Alondra Blvd.
Norwalk, CA 90650

IV. Selection Procedures

A. No application will be considered after the specified deadline date of April 1 (of the year of application). It is the candidate's responsibility to make sure all required information is in the Health Occupations Division office no later than April 1.

B. Points will be given for the following criteria:

1. Grade Point Average in prerequisite courses
2. Number of units completed up to 60 semester units
3. Overall Grade Point Average for all college courses
4. Additional science courses with a grade of "B" or above
5. Related dental work experience


C. The final selection of students will be based on an objective point system.

D. Candidates will be notified of their application status in the month of May.
E. There is no yearly waiting list.  Candidates not selected must reapply each year and resubmit all application materials.


V. Scholarship, Attendance, Promotion, Graduation

A. Attendance: All students are required to observe the attendance requirements of the college. Due to the nature of the Dental Hygiene program it is expected that students will attend all classes.

B. Scholarship and Promotion: Students are required to maintain a grade of "C" or better in each dental hygiene and dental education course in order to progress in the program. (Courses are designed to prepare the student to successfully complete program competencies: see last section) Grade requirements of the college are to be met for all other courses.

C. Graduation: Petition for graduation will be permitted if the student meets both the College and the Dental Hygiene Program requirements for graduation. Upon completion of the program, the graduate will be qualified to take the Dental Hygiene National Board and Regional Clinical Examinations.

A. Clinical placements are a mandatory component of the curriculum and may require clearance of a criminal background check.  Students who do not clear agency requirements are not eligible for clinical placement and will, consequently, be ineligible to continue in the program.  If there is any concern regarding clearance of a criminal background check, please contact the Dental Hygiene Department for additional information.
B. Applicants for examination of licensure in the state of California must be  fingerprinted and report information related to illegal use of controlled substances, infectious or contagious diseases and any convictions or pleas of nolo contendere even if charges are dismissed.  In addition, the application requires specific information related to convictions, misdemeanor or felony, associated with state or federal action.  If there is any concern that may prevent licensure after graduation, direct inquiries to the Dental Hygiene Committee of California, 2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 2050, Sacramento, CA 95815, prior to applying to the program. ( or 916-263-1978).
** The Program has made every reasonable effort to determine that everything stated in the information sheet is accurate. Matters contained herein, are subject to change without notice by the administration of the department for reasons related to student enrollment, level of financial support or for any reason, at the discretion of the Program. The Program further reserves the right to add, amend, or repeal any of the rules, regulations, policies and procedures, consistent with applicable laws.

The philosophy of the Associate Degree Dental Hygiene Program was developed to reflect the philosophy of Cerritos College.

The Dental Hygiene Department believes that the program should provide opportunities for the student to reach her/his greatest potential in the profession of dental hygiene so that she/he may achieve a sense of dignity, value and personal worth in the community and in the world of work regardless of age, gender or ethnicity.

The goals of the dental hygiene program are as follows:

A.To graduate an individual who is competent in providing preventive, educational, and therapeutic dental health services.

  1. Graduates must be competent in providing dental hygiene care for the child, adolescent, adult, geriatric and medically compromised patient.
  2. Graduates must be competent in providing the dental hygiene process of care which includes assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation.
  3. Graduates must be competent in providing dental hygiene care for all types of classifications of periodontal disease including patients who exhibit moderate to severe periodontal disease.
  4. Graduates must be competent in providing appropriate life support measures for medical emergencies that maybe encountered in dental hygiene practice.

B.To instill within the student a philosophical appreciation of ethical and moral values suited to the laws of  the community as outlined by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and the American Dental Association.

  1. Graduates must be competent in applying ethical, legal, and regulatory concepts to the provision and/or support of oral health care services.

C. To encourage the student to develop professional behavior that is founded in evidence-based decision making, self-directed learning and self-assessment to enhance professional competence.

  1. Graduates must be competent in the application of self-assessment skills to prepare them for life-long learning.
  2. Graduates must be competent in the evaluation of current scientific literature.
  3. Graduates must be competent in problem solving strategies related to comprehensive patient care and management of patients.

D. To graduate an individual who is competent in providing health education programs to the community supporting total health through the promotion of optimal oral health.

  1. Graduates must be competent in interpersonal and communication skills to effectively interact with diverse population groups.
  2. Graduates must be competent in assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating community-based oral health programs including health promotion and disease prevention activities.

E. To promote patient satisfaction of the dental hygiene care provided by the student clinician.

View the dental hygiene application


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Last Update: 4/1/2021