Dental hygienists usually work in a dental office alongside the dentist. The hygienists are trained to clean patients teeth and examine their mouths for signs of oral disease. Dental hygienists teach patients how to properly care for their teeth and gums to prevent oral diseases, such as gingivitis. They can also take x-rays of the inside of the mouth to get a closer look at the teeth, which helps the dentist look for cavities. Dental hygienists may also work within more specialized areas of dentistry, such as orthodontics, which focuses on correcting improper bites of patients. When working with an orthodontist, dental hygienists may assist in many tasks, such as applying braces or making dental impressions.


First, a high school diploma is required for admission to dental hygiene schools. Then, you will need to complete pre-requisite courses at a university or community college. The required courses vary depending on the dental hygiene program you apply to, but most programs require courses be completed in biology, chemistry, math, and English.

There are several programs within Louisiana:

Schools in Louisiana:

LSU Health Science Center New Orleans school of Dentistry

  • LSUHSC School of Dentistry offers a bachelor of science in dental hygiene at two locations. The main program is located at the dental school in New Orleans. The second campus is in Lafayette.
  • You must have a minimum of 61 hours of college credit to apply. Specific prerequisites include classes in biology, chemistry, math, and English.
  • You must also have an ACT score of 20 or greater
  • It is recommended that you volunteer or work with a dental professional before applying to the program
  • For more information on requirements:
Ms. Carrie Mason, RDH, MEd, Director of Dental Hygiene
Local: (504) 941-8156
Jorge Nunez Mendez, Coordinator of Admissions
Local: (504) 941-8124

There are also dental hygiene programs located at:

  • University of Louisiana Monroe
  • Southern University at Shreveport
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette

In order to earn a Bachelor of Science degree, 61 credit hours of general education courses are required in addition to 64 dental hygiene credit hours for a total of 125 semester hours.

For enrollment in the program at LSUSD, the applicant may take the 61 general education credit hours at any accredited institution prior to enrollment. Prerequisite information is available at the LSUSD website 

Your training will prepare you to examine, clean and polish teeth, give fluoride treatments, and take and process X-rays. You will develop teaching skills to educate your patient population about proper oral hygiene and proper dietary recommendations for healthy teeth. You will also learn how to work within a community to educate people about dental health.


Most dental hygienists work in private dental offices, while the remainder work in schools, clinics, hospitals, health maintenance organizations and in private industry. The favorable prospects for dental hygienist’s employment reflect the increased demand for dental services based upon population growth, rising incomes, growing population awareness of the value of preventive health service and the increasing availability of dental insurance. Employment is projected to increase by 38% from 2010-2020.


The average annual wage for dental hygienists was $70,210 in May 2012. This may vary depending on the area you live in and the setting you work in. 


American Dental Hygienists’ Association
444 North Michigan; Suite 3400
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 440-8900