Dental Hygiene Technical Standards

The following technical standards reflect performance abilities that are necessary for a student to successfully complete the requirements of the Dental Hygiene curriculum. It should be noted that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, "A qualified person with a disability is one who can perform the essential function of a job with or without reasonable accommodation." Please read the standards carefully and seek clarification if necessary. According to the nature of the work required in Dental Hygiene, the student must be able to meet the following standards:

Interpersonal abilities sufficient to interact with individuals, families and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural and intellectual backgrounds
Establish rapport and professionally communicate with patients, families, faculty, staff and fellow classmates. Allow mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients, faculty, staff and classmates.
Communication abilities sufficient for interaction with others in verbal and written form
Listen attentively. Collect assessment data. Explain treatment procedures. Initiate health teaching. Document and interpret dental hygiene actions and client and family responses. Document assessment findings and treatment rendered. Utilize appropriate telephone etiquette. Perceive non-verbal communication.
Critical-thinking ability sufficient for clinical judgment
Identify cause-and-effect relationship in clinical situations. Integrate, analyze and synthesize data. Develop dental hygiene treatment plans. Assimilate knowledge from lecture, laboratory and clinical arenas. Utilize basic mathematical skills. Draw sound conclusions.
Physical abilities and endurance sufficient to move around rooms in the dental environment, maneuver in small spaces, work in enclosed spaces, sit and work chair-side for long periods and reach needed equipment
Move around clinical operatories, dark rooms, sterilization room and other treatment areas. Position chair-side in close proximity to patient. Administer CPR and BLS procedures. Reach and move radiographic equipment, which is approximately 5 to 6 feet off the floor. Transfer patients from wheelchairs to dental chairs and back, if needed. Utilize repetitive motions with hands, wrists, neck, shoulders and back using gross and fine motor skills for at least eight hours per day.
Gross and fine motor abilities, including spatial relations, sufficient to provide safe and effective dental hygiene care
Move, calibrate and use equipment and supplies. Use ancillary aids chair-side – mannequins, small equipment, etc. Utilize sharp hand instruments requiring fine motor skills and manual dexterity. Use spatial relations to correctly instrument in clinic with use of indirect vision when required.
Tactile ability sufficient for assessment and performance of dental hygiene procedures
Perform palpation techniques (EO/IO exam, pulse, etc.), functions of a dental hygiene exam and/or those related to therapeutic intervention, such as exploring, scaling and root planning
Auditory ability sufficient to monitor and assess health needs
Hears patients and sounds of emergencies, sound of instruments being properly utilized, sound of slow speed hand piece and ultrasonic scaler, sound of radiography unit monitors and autoclave monitors. Monitors vital signs.
Visual ability sufficient for physical assessment, performance of dental hygiene procedures and maintenance of environmental safety
Observes client responses, such as skin color and facial expression. Notes oral conditions and gingival description to include color changes and pocket depths in millimeter increments. Evaluates radiographs for technical quality, including density, contrast and distortion. Selects correct end of small instruments. Able to read small print, including anesthesia vials and medication labels.
Olfactory ability sufficient for maintaining a safe work environment and patient safety, as well as recognizing oral diseases
Distinguishes smells that affect the safety of the work environment (fire), safety for the patient (tissue burns) and the smell of oral diseases
Professional appearance, attitude and demeanor needed for utilization of intellectual abilities and good judgment in performing the roles of a dental hygienist
Present a professional appearance. Maintain own physical and mental health as well as emotional stability. Maintain a calm and efficient manner within time constraints, medical emergencies and high-stress situations. Exposure to communicable diseases and contaminated body fluids. Demonstrate teamwork and flexibility. Demonstrate empathy. Maintain ethics and sound decision making. Respect cultural diversity. Able to focus in an environment with multiple interruptions, noises, distractions and unexpected patient needs. Demonstrate organizational skills.


**If a Dental Hygiene student believes that he or she cannot meet one or more of the standards without accommodation or modifications, the college must determine, on an individual basis, whether the necessary accommodations or modifications can be made reasonably.