10 Best Online Diagnostic Dental Hygiene College Associates Degrees

Written by College Cliffs Team At, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: February 9, 2024, Reading time: 18 minutes

Find your perfect college degree

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Dental hygienists play a key role in the healthcare sector—even without the intensive training and nearly a decade of education of doctors or nurses! Helping dentists provide better dental care, dental hygienists perform deep cleanings of teeth and gums in dental offices. They educate patients on proper oral hygiene to prevent future problems.

Online Associates in Diagnostic Dental Hygiene - fact

Online associate degrees in Diagnostic Dental Hygiene are an ideal starting point for students pursuing a career in the dental hygiene field. The key is to match the right online program that fits your preferences and goals!

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Jumpstart Your Dental Hygiene Career

Obtaining an associate’s degree in Diagnostic Dental Hygiene means spending two years of study to gain fundamental dental hygiene knowledge. The associate program consists of core courses, electives, and general education courses, covering the basics of dental hygiene, dental materials, periodontics, and anesthesia.

Lab work, internships, and other learning opportunities teach students to clean teeth, run dental X-rays, conduct patient screening, and assist dentists with other dental services.

The Lowdown

Diagnostic Dental Hygiene associate degrees, many of which are offered online, prepare graduates primarily for clinical careers. Dental hygienists with associate-level training have good earning potential, flexibility, and employability.

By completing an accredited Dental Hygiene program, they become ready to work in private practice, doctor’s clinics, and hospitals, but many jobs await them beyond these settings.


We compiled the best online Associate of Diagnostic Dental Hygiene degrees nationwide from leading colleges and universities! In choosing each online program, we took these academic features into account:

Get information on our ranking process! Read our Methodology.

10 Best Online Colleges with Online Associates in Diagnostic Dental Hygiene

Texas State Technical College

Texas State Technical College

Texas State Technical College offers its online Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene program focusing on oral cavity assessment and dental hygiene. Basic oral health screening and x-ray procedures are also part of the online associate degree coursework. Dental hygiene students will learn to instruct patients on proper oral care, quitting smoking, diet, and overall oral and systemic health. 

During the final semester, students participate in clinical rotations both on- and off-campus to gain the competencies required for offering the general population preventative dental care.

Here are some of the courses:

University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh - School of Dental Medicine

The online Associate of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene is a 79-credit program at the University of Pittsburgh that takes two years to complete. This online program is fit for diverse learners and is offered through intra- and inter-professional education in the fundamental sciences, health sciences, and clinical dental hygiene.

The Dental Hygiene program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine aims to produce highly qualified professionals committed to offering patients the best possible care and service.

Pitt Dental Medicine patients receive dental hygiene services from dental hygiene students in this associate program. In this practical experience, students perform dental hygiene procedures such as oral prophylaxis, X-rays, periodontal scaling, dental assessments, and patient education.

Students in the University of Pittsburgh Dental Hygiene Program begin their clinical training in the simulation clinic during the fall term in the first year before moving on to actual patient care in the second term.

When pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the future, students can use their credits in a transfer-friendly university or college.

Weber State University

Weber State University

Weber State University’s hybrid Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene program prepares students to work alongside dentists and educate patients on healthy habits as part of an integrated dental practice.

In the classroom or online, students learn the most recent technologies used by experts in dental hygiene. The American Dental Hygienists Association recognizes this online degree taught by professors who are members of credible organizations and associations in the dental field.

This online associate degree is unique because it allows you to join a study abroad program. For instance, one program allows students to travel to China and explore the dental hygiene industry. An opportunity like this allows Dental Hygiene majors to network with peers and participate in events and networking opportunities.

To obtain a degree in Diagnostic Dental Hygiene, students must fulfill all the general education requirements for an Associate of Science.

Sample courses of this associate degree in Dental Hygiene include:

Mesa Community College

Mesa Community College

The Associate in Applied Science – Dental Hygiene degree is available at Mesa Community College. This hybrid program leads to a primary care oral health professional career. After graduation, you can work as a qualified dental hygienist and perform many important tasks such as dental hygiene, administration, assessments, advising, and support in dental research.

Whether they pursue general or specialty practices, dental hygienists from Mesa Community College can work in private or public health care settings. Students are also prepared for university transfer through the curriculum.

Mesa Community’s associate degree in Dental Hygiene is a demanding science-based program. Students participate in off-site educational and enrichment activities to deliver services for patients of different demographics in clinical settings. This practical experience instills a sense of civic responsibility among students, cultivating critical thinking and emphasizing ethical and professional conduct.

This online program adheres to the standard Infection Control principles and practices, as advised by different organizations and accrediting agencies in this field of study.

Check out the following courses included in this associate degree in Dental Hygiene:

Monroe Community College

SUNY Monroe Community College

Monroe Community College comes with an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene, which is nationally recognized. This hybrid program helps you prepare for a rewarding career in dental care. In particular, preventive dentistry is the focus of this two-year Dental Hygiene program.

This Dental Hygiene curriculum is practical; students’ competencies are tested as they deliver services to patients in the community. A professional career program, the dental hygiene associate degree at Monroe Community College comes with all-encompassing courses in dental science, liberal arts, and practice courses. You will learn more about the profession as part of your clinical assignments. Once the program is completed, you can pursue a bachelor’s degree or start working as a dental hygienist. 

After graduation, you can work in pediatric or adult dental healthcare. You may also join hospitals and private or public clinics, providing customized dental care to patients.

You’ll also learn how to perform infection control procedures and educate patients on the importance of maintaining optimal oral health. You’ll also be taught how to assess and modify preventive and therapeutic services to help clients achieve and maintain optimal health.

Sample courses in this online associate degree are the following:

Southwestern College

Southwestern College

Southwestern College offers the Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene degree as a hybrid program. This Diagnostic Dental Hygiene program prepares students for careers in dental hygiene by studying humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Practicing dental hygiene within the context of clinical care is the focus of this associate degree. Within two years, students learn to assess patients’ oral health, offer dental health advice, conduct X-rays, assist in removing dental deposits, and fill in teeth with sealants or fluorides.

Here are the Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene courses:

This dental hygiene program offers instruction and practical training to prepare graduates for dental hygienist licensure at both the regional and national levels for graduates.

Ferris State University

Ferris State University

Ferris State University offers an online Associate in Applied Science Degree in Dental Hygiene. This qualifies you to take the dental hygiene licensing exams. Pre-professional courses are taught during the first year of the dental hygiene program, and professional courses are taught during the second and third years.

Among the country’s associate degrees in Dental Hygiene programs, Ferris State’s is the largest in Michigan. The school has a track record of demonstrating academic excellence, employing the best professors known for their innovative instructional skills in dental hygiene. 

As part of the college’s dental hygiene program, students can work with patients from the local community and explore industry affiliations to gain clinical experience. This three-year Associate in Applied Science prepares learners to sit for the state licensing examination.

Here are some courses included in this associate degree:

Phoenix College

Phoenix College - A Maricopa Community College

An Associate in Applied Science – Dental Hygiene online degree is offered at Phoenix College. This program is designed to prepare students for careers in oral health care. The dental hygiene program at Phoenix College has a rigorous, intensive, scientifically-based curriculum.

In addition to providing clinical services, students also engage in off-site educational and enrichment experiences that serve diverse populations in various settings. Students who succeed in this program will demonstrate critical thinking skills and ethical and professional behavior.

This dental hygiene degree offers different career pathways. Assisting the dental team with clinical and administrative procedures is one of the many duties of dental assistants. In this program, you will learn how to record, interpret, and document patient data, including diagnoses, treatment plans, and procedures performed. Students are also taught to handle referrals and lab cases.

Here are some sample courses in this associate degree:

Georgia Highlands College

Georgia Highlands College

Georgia Highlands College offers an online Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene, which takes two years to finish. One class is admitted annually, and the program is completed in five consecutive semesters.

The admissions process for Georgia Highlands College’s dental hygiene program is competitive. Applicants are expected to be adept in Mathematics and the sciences.

After graduation, Dental Hygiene graduates are qualified to offer professional dental hygiene services in therapeutic settings. Graduates become equipped to work in dentistry, gain the public’s trust, and demonstrate a dedication to lifelong study. To ensure academic excellence, all the components of this associate program are constantly evaluated.

University of Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport

Hygienists provide essential services, such as educating patients on how to prevent and treat oral diseases. You can do your best in doing this when you have training and education through an online Associate degree in Dental Hygiene. You’ll be prepared to provide direct care to patients of all ages at hospitals, schools, community health care, or dental clinics.

The University of Bridgeport’s Dental Hygiene degree is a transfer-friendly program. This pre-dental program emphasizes foundation knowledge of dental hygiene and general education classes in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics to develop students’ teamwork, communication, and time management abilities.

Students gain practical experience in a state-of-the-art dentistry clinic at the University of Bridgeport. Through initiatives like Senior Smiles and Give Kids a Smile, learners can provide services directly to patients.

These are the courses offered:

Differences Between Dental Hygienists and Dentists

Dental hygienists and dentists have specific roles in the dental care industry. But both of them play huge parts in preventing or resolving dental issues. Dentists and hygienists have some areas of concern in practice. To better understand the differences between these two, here are specific details about the two:

Education Requirements

There’s an obvious difference between dental hygienists and dentists regarding education requirements.

Dental hygienists can complete specialized dental hygiene programs in dental hygiene at colleges, universities, or technical schools. Some would require a high school diploma or GED.

An Associate or Certificate in Dental Hygiene is an option for those interested in becoming dental hygienists. Some courses in associate degree in dental hygiene would include dental hygiene, dental anatomy, dental materials, biological science, and periodontology.

Hygienists seeking even greater knowledge pursue bachelor’s degrees.

On the other hand, to become a dentist, one must first earn a bachelor’s degree. In their undergraduate studies, future dentists can major in biology and chemistry or pursue pre-medical courses. They may have to take a Dental Admissions Test to get admitted into a dental school.

Candidates must pass several licensing exams administered by the state after graduating from dentistry school. Following the completion of the necessary licensing requirements, they can practice dentistry.

In addition to providing expert diagnosis and skilled treatment, dentists often specialize in areas other than general dentistry. Licensed dentists must hold a national or state license and be board-certified to specialize in dentistry.

Tasks and Responsibilities

There are variations between the principal functions of dental hygienists and dentists despite having responsibilities related to patient care. Typically, dentists focus on detecting, diagnosing, and treating gum disease and tooth decay. They can prescribe medicines and frequently deliver local anesthetics for simple operations. 

Conversely, dental hygienists are at the forefront of the patient’s journey. A registered dental hygienist often conducts the initial evaluation and other tasks before the dentist’s assessment and treatment planning as part of a dental team. They usually help dentists perform cleanings and advise patients on good dental hygiene and maintenance

Although they cannot carry out surgery or complex treatments, diagnostic dental hygienists can assist dentists in providing this care. They usually identify abnormalities and possible diseases, cleanings, and other disease prevention efforts. 

Job Demand

As for job demands, dentists and dental hygienists have different demands in the dental industry. Dentists in the United States will experience a growth of 4% in the next decade. Meanwhile, the number of dental hygienists is expected to grow to more than 235,700 by 2032, demonstrating a 7% growth from 2022, according to the Labor Statistics Bureau,

Based on medical research linking dental health to overall health, both careers are expected to grow as demand for dental services increases.

Things to Learn in an Online Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene

An associate degree in dental hygiene comes with many dental hygiene topics related to science and math. Anatomy and physiology are two crucial components of dental hygiene programs. Also covered are fundamentals of oral histology, biochemistry, and microbiology, as well as the materials, processes, and techniques hygienists use when providing patient care. However, the courses may differ depending on the dental school or university you choose to attend.

During the 2nd to fourth semesters, your classes might go into greater complexity and depth while exploring more complex subjects like anesthesiology, pain control, pharmacology, and periodontology. Although some programs offer graduation times of roughly two years, online associate degrees in dental hygiene normally require the equivalent of three academic years to complete.

Even online associate degrees in dental hygiene would require hands-on training, such as labs and clinical practice. Some universities have their dental clinics so students can perform clinical practice. Students enrolled in programs with online delivery formats must still complete these requirements in person.

Career Opportunities for an Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene Holder

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists collaborate with dental care team members to educate and care for patients. They check their patients’ teeth and gums under a dentist’s supervision. They could use dental equipment to clean the area surrounding the gum line and remove stains from the teeth. Additionally, they check for dental problems and probable cavities. There are diverse work settings ready for dental hygienists. You can work in clinics, hospitals, or community centers.

Dental Office Manager

The everyday activities of a dentist’s office or the dental health division of a larger facility are managed by dental office managers. Dental office managers are usually responsible for monitoring the work of front desk staff or dental assistants, dealing with insurance claims that clients or businesses submit, creating procedures to ensure that patients and employees are always safe, creating a budget, and ensuring that all staff members stay within it when placing orders for supplies or equipment, and more.

Dental Sales Representative

Instead of continuing a clinical profession, dental hygiene graduates may decide that they would prefer to work in a field related to oral health. Perhaps a career in dentistry sales is right for you. You can be a dental sales representative who promotes or sells dental-related products and supplies. There are many places where you can be displaced.

No matter the products, you should have dental hygiene and business knowledge. Dental sales representatives are also in charge of assessing and recommending dental supplies to clinicians and office managers.

Medical Dental Assistant

Medical dental assistants carry out clinical and administrative activities in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings. These dental care professionals can perform multiple tasks such as checking patient’s records, assessing their dental health condition, booking dentist appointments, and gathering personal data. They also assist dentists with other dental services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do dental hygienists usually work?

A dental hygienist often performs their work under the direction of a dentist in a private office. They usually have a chance to work closely with patients. They perform tasks that dentists usually need help with, like polishing teeth, taking teeth molds, cleaning teeth, or conducting X-rays. Additionally, they maintain patient charts and record dental histories.

However, there are other places where you might find employment once you have earned your associate degree. Especially after acquiring a license or certificate for dental hygiene, your job opportunities will broaden, and schools, clinics, health facilities, community health centers, and nursing homes will be great workplaces for you as a dental hygienist.

Furthermore, you can also provide private dental hygiene services or become a freelancing dental hygienist, where you can handle multiple jobs and clients simultaneously, such as medical dental assistants and sales representatives.

Can dental hygienists perform fillings?

The short answer is yes. An associate degree in dental hygiene provides training for dental hygienists to perform dental fillings. Your dental hygienist might finish fillings on the dentist’s advice if they are qualified to do so. Although dental therapy is a different certification, dental hygienists typically hold both. A dental school will train them to do a variety of dental treatments, including most fillings. 

What do dental hygienists do?

The dental hygienist’s clinical services may involve administering local anesthesia and nitrous oxide analgesia, evaluating medical and dental health histories, and examining, diagnosing, and documenting the oral conditions of patients.

They may also be responsible for taking and interpreting dental radiographs. They assist dentists in performing dental services such as cleaning, molding teeth, creating dentures, applying fluorides and sealants, and removing biofilm or stains.

Is prior experience required to enroll in an online associate degree in Diagnostic Dental Hygiene?

In most cases, you can enroll in these online associate degree in dental hygiene education programs without any prior experience. However, many of these institutions also have bachelor’s degree completion programs, and it is a requirement for those programs that applicants hold a dental hygiene associate’s or certificate.

Students who enroll in degree completion programs must transfer a certain number of credits and frequently have work experience and academic background. But anyone interested in learning dental hygiene can enroll in the best online associate in dental hygiene without prior experience. Typically, high school or GED would suffice. 

Key Takeaways

Additional Resources: