Best Dental Hygiene Schools in Georgia – 2023
Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
In Georgia, dental hygienists cannot diagnose or prescribe medications. Though their scope of practice is broad, allowing them to perform procedures like prophylaxis, the application of topical anesthetic and fluoride, and the replacement and removal of oral sutures, in most instances, dental hygienists can only practice under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. If you’re looking for training opportunities in the Peach State that will help you become a hygienist, we’ve put together this list of the best dental hygiene programs in Georgia.
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What Courses Will I Be Taking During My Dental Hygienist Training?
Hygienists in the Peach State need a strong foundation in basic sciences like chemistry, biology, microbiology, anatomy, and physiology. In addition to that coursework, they must also take classes that are relevant to their specialty such as dental anatomy, oral pathology, and community dental health. In skills labs, you’ll learn specific procedures that are performed by hygienists such as the removal of plaque, tartar, and stains from teeth. One of your functions will be client education, so dental hygiene schools in GA offer counseling and patient management classes. At the end of the didactic component of your dental hygiene education, you will be assigned clinical rotations where you’ll go out in the field and work with actual patients under the oversight of a practicing dentist.
Dental Hygiene Program Length & Cost in Georgia
There are three pathways to becoming a dental hygienist in the Peach State: an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. The associate degree is generally considered sufficient prep for entry-level positions; hygienists who complete bachelors’ and masters’ degrees often pursue careers in administration, public health, research or education.
Associate degrees take between 20 and 30 months to complete and will set you back between $3,540 - $39,370, depending upon whether you attend a community college or a technical college. A bachelor’s degree will take you four years to complete, and for the first two years, you’ll probably be taking general education classes; tuition ranges from $16,420 for Georgia residents at a state-subsidized school to $72,010 at a private college or university. Master’s programs entail an additional one to two years of education and cost between $21,410 and $66,110.
| Type of Program|| Length|| Cost|
|Associate Degree||20 - 30 Months||$3,540 - $39,370|
|Bachelor's Degree||4 - years||$16,420 - $72,010|
|Master's Degree||Between 1 and 2 years||$21,410 - $66,110|
WHAT ARE THE BEST DENTAL HYGIENE PROGRAMS IN GEORGIA?
(Based on our Ranking Methodology, below are the 10 best dental hygiene programs in Georgia. The list includes both campus-based and online programs.)
The department of dental hygiene at Central Georgia Technical College constantly updates its curriculum and teaching pedagogy in consultation with prominent local dentists. This ensures the education you receive is up-to-date and consistent with the latest industry trends.
The college’s associate in dental hygiene requires you to complete a total of 83 credits in a curriculum that comprises of general education, anatomical and physiological and dental hygiene courses. You will go through didactic and lab sessions along with clinical training to complete this coursework in about two years. Well, this course is demanding in terms of your time and efforts, however with the growth, this career has witnessed in recent times, it will be all worthwhile. Upon completion of the program, you will be ready to take the state and national licensure exams and thereafter work in entry-level positions as a dental hygienist.
Clayton State University is a top ranking affordable dental hygiene school in Georgia that offers flexible options to pursue a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.
The college offers an RDH-BSDH track for registered dental hygienists who have completed an associate degree in dental hygiene. All the courses in this program are offered online, and you even have the option of completing them on either a full-time or part-time basis. This curriculum enhances your communication, critical thinking and decision-making skills, a requirement to competently treat a diverse population of patients.
For those seeking to greatly widen their career prospects and with an inclination towards business and management, you can complete an additional ten courses and earn a dual degree of a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management + Dental Hygiene. Dual degree graduates can explore management positions in the dental field.
Savannah Technical College offers a dental hygiene program at its largest campus in Savannah. Being its most comprehensive campus, you study in a bustling academic environment that inspires students to flourish in their chosen field. State-of-the-art facilities and a dedicated faculty facilitate learning and produce positive academic outcomes.
The associate degree in dental hygiene spans across five semesters and requires you to complete a total of 83 credit hours. The curriculum incorporates liberal arts, behavioral sciences, natural science, general education courses along with dental hygiene courses to give you a well-rounded education. Upon completion of this coursework, you will be prepared to take the national and state licensing exams and perform dental hygiene functions such as examining the patient, scaling, removing plaque, applying sealants and fluoride, developing radiographs and oral prophylaxis.
West Georgia Technical College’s dental hygiene department provides for a learning environment where students thrive to become proficient professionals and life-long learners. Under the guidance of an experienced and qualified faculty, students are mentored with the most relevant and updated teaching methodology.
You can acquire vital skills and knowledge to work as an entry-level dental hygienist with this associate degree program that requires you to complete a total of 86 credits. The program is offered in fall, each year and progresses as a cohort. Some of the courses you will take are anatomy, physiology, microbiology, oral anatomy, oral histology, anatomy of the head and neck, dental materials, dental radiology, pharmacology and pain control, community dental health, periodontology, and nutrition fundamentals. Hands-On clinical experience is an important component of this program that helps enhance professional skills in real-world settings.
Dental Hygiene is a career much in demand and requires skilled and trained professionals to play a significant role as a member of the dental team. Atlanta Technical College meets this need by preparing qualified dental hygienists to join the workforce. Furthermore, an on-campus clinic serves as an effective learning ground, where students hone skills while serving the local community.
This dental hygiene program in GA is an associate degree that can be completed in two years. It is a full-time program with day classes and requires completing a total of 84 credits. Some of the occupational courses you will complete include oral anatomy, dental materials, dental radiology, oral pathology, nutritional fundamentals, periodontology, and community dental health. By the end of this program you will learn to perform functions required of a registered dental hygienist at a variety of clinical settings. Admission into this program is highly competitive, so ensure you score a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the pre-requisite courses.
Athens Technical College designs a Dental Hygiene curriculum that focuses on job-ready skills. Graduates go on to find employment in dental offices, hospitals, community health centers, schools, insurance companies, dental research laboratories, and sales and management.
ATC’s dental hygiene program is an associate degree that takes about two years to complete. By completing a curriculum that includes 49 credits in dental hygiene courses, 12 credits in behavioral and biological sciences and 22 credits in general education courses, you will master professional and ethical skills required to promote the dental health of patients. You must pass all these courses with a minimum grade of “C “or higher to earn your degree. It is a good idea to complete general education courses before starting the dental hygiene coursework. This way you can lessen the study burden of this rigorous curriculum.
Augusta University offers two types of bachelor’s degrees to choose from to greatly enhance your career prospects in the fields of oral care, education, research and sales, and management.
Bachelor of Science with a Major in Dental Hygiene:
This four-year program is meant for students with no dental background and requires completing the last two years of study (65 credits) at the Augusta campus. The freshman and sophomore years, where you are required to complete 60 credits, can be completed from any accredited college. With this on-campus program, you will go through didactic, lab sessions and clinical training.
BS-DH Degree Completion Program:
This program is meant for those who hold an accredited associate degree in dental hygiene. The advantage of this program is that all the courses are offered online with flexible schedule options. So, even if you are working full-time, you can pursue this degree and open up a wide array of career opportunities.
Lanier Technical College offers dental hygiene training that prepares you with the academic, technical and clinical knowledge and skills required to work in entry-level positions. Post-completion of this program, you will be able to take the licensing exams, both at the national and state level.
To become a dental hygienist in GA you can consider this associate degree offered by the college that can be completed in 21 months. The program is intensive and requires a full-time commitment; hence any work assignments during this period are not recommended. With just 15 students admitted each year, to enhance your chances of admission ensure you complete the required 38 credit core coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.0. To meet this requirement, the college suggests first entering the Interdisciplinary Studies Degree program so that you can meet the core requirements. Nonetheless, this does not guarantee admission into the dental hygiene program.
Columbus Technical College’s small-sized classes with personalized attention, dedicated mentorship, latest lab facilities, and a warm and nurturing environment support the career goals of dental hygiene students.
This dental hygiene degree, offered by the college is an associate that runs through five semesters. The coursework is broad and covers courses in psychology, sociology, communication, the anatomy of the mouth, neck and head, dental materials, dental radiology, pharmacology and pain control, nutrition, periodontics, oral pathology, and community dental health. Lab sessions in clinical dental hygiene and radiology perfectly complement didactic teaching. By the end of this program, you will be well trained to perform cleaning and polishing of teeth, process radiographs, examine and evaluate patients, apply fluoride and sealants and communicate and educate patients about proper oral hygiene and health.
Georgia Highland College’s dental hygiene department serves as an effective learning platform where you can acquire skills and knowledge required to work as a dental hygienist. The college also runs an on-campus dental clinic that provides ample practice opportunity for students to perform oral hygiene procedures on a diverse patient population.
GHC currently offers two types of dental hygiene programs -
Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene:
This is a pathway course that leads to a bachelor’s and takes two years to complete. The program begins each fall and offers courses in a sequence. The college advises students to strengthen their math and sciences in preparation for this coursework. The program admits only 14 students each year who go on to complete courses in dental hygiene across five semesters, including a summer.
RDH to BSDH Completion Program:
For registered dental hygienists who have completed their associate degree and are seeking career advancement, there is an RDH to BSDH Completion program offered by the college. This coursework entails completing 30 credits in the bachelor’s coursework. All the courses are offered online with flexible schedule options. There is, however, an internship requirement that must be fulfilled in your geographic area. By completing this program, you will be able to work as a part of an interdisciplinary healthcare team, equipped with the required professional skills and knowledge.
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Dental Hygienist Career Information For Georgia - 2023
How Many Dental Hygienists are Currently Employed in GA?
Where do Dental Hygienists Work in Georgia?
Most dental hygienists in Georgia (5,490) work for dentists in those dentists’ offices. “Supervision” does not necessarily mean direct proximity, so dental hygienists are able to perform some tasks like prophylaxis, the administration of sealants and fluoride, and the placement and removal of periodontal bandages while the dentist is out of the room. The direct supervision requirement provision can be lifted in certain settings: Dental hygienists can perform dental screenings without a dentist’s oversight at correctional institutions and at community clinics, and 70 hygienists in Georgia work directly for federal, state and county governments doing just that. The remaining 60 hygienists partner with physician practices.
| Industry||Number of Dental Hygienists|
|Offices of Dentists||5,490|
|Offices of Physicians||60|
What is the Average Salary of a Dental Hygienist in Georgia?
The average dental hygienist salary in Georgia is $80,410 a year. Since most hygienists are affiliated with a dental office, their benefits packages vary according to what their bosses want to offer. Many dental hygienists work 20 hours or less, which may make them ineligible for benefits.
| Type|| Salary|
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Salary Based on Years of Experience
| Years of Experience || Hourly || Monthly || Annual |
| Less than 1 year (Starting) || $29.63 || $5,140 || $61,620 |
| 1-4 years || $33.65 || $5,830 || $70,000 |
| 5-9 years || $37.22 || $6,450 || $77,420 |
| 10-19 years || $39.45 || $6,840 || $82,060 |
| 20 years or more || $44.79 || $7,760 || $93,160 |
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Dental Hygienist Average Salary Comparison: Georgia vs. National
Georgia hygienist salaries are markedly below the national average. The demand for dental hygiene services may not be as high in Georgia as it is in other states since outside major metropolitan centers, many state residents live below the poverty line and may think twice about preventative services that will need to be paid for out of pocket.
|Georgia|| National|| Difference|
| Number|| %|
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
The demand for dental hygienists in Georgia is expected to soar by nearly 16 percent by 2030. One reason for this is that the state economy is growing stronger, and dental hygiene is one of the preventative dental care services that upwardly mobile individuals make the most use of. Another reason is that by 2030, 20 percent of Georgia’s population will be over the age of 65. Unlike the generations that came before them, aging Baby Boomers want to keep their natural teeth, and regular visits to a dental hygienist are one of the best ways to do that.
| Employment|| Employment Growth (2020-2030)|
| 2020|| 2030|| Number|| Percent|
Annual Job Openings
| New || Replacement|| Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)|
Metro Wise Employment & Salary Data
By far, the largest concentration of Georgia dental hygienists are to be found in Atlanta: 3,170 hygienists work in the Big Peach. This is probably true because Atlanta is where you’ll find clients who understand that a bright smile is the passport to professional and social success. Atlanta is also one of the locations where dental hygienists in Georgia command the highest salaries.
Augusta, Georgia’s second-largest city, is another economy that’s firing on all cylinders. Three hundred and seventy hygienists work here while 280 and 140 respectively work in the equally prosperous cities of Savannah and Macon.
Outside of these metropolitan regions, however, poverty is a major issue. In Valdosta, for example, nearly 75 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty line. It’s not surprising that only 140 hygienists work in Macon and that their average salary is the lowest in the state.
| Metro || Employment || Average Salary |
| Hourly || Monthly || Annual |
| Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell || 3,170 || $39.92 || $6,920 || $83,030 |
| Augusta-Richmond County || 370 || $36.25 || $6,280 || $75,400 |
| Savannah || 280 || $38.94 || $6,750 || $80,990 |
| Columbus || 180 || $33.52 || $5,810 || $69,730 |
| Dalton || 170 || $36.24 || $6,280 || $75,380 |
| Gainesville || 150 || * || * || * |
| Athens-Clarke County || 140 || $39.15 || $6,790 || $81,440 |
| Macon || 140 || $35.42 || $6,140 || $73,680 |
| Warner Robins || 120 || $34.35 || $5,950 || $71,450 |
| Albany || 110 || $36.63 || $6,350 || $76,180 |
| Brunswick || 80 || $39.90 || $6,920 || $82,990 |
| Valdosta || 60 || $31.63 || $5,480 || $65,800 |
| Rome || 40 || $34.78 || $6,030 || $72,340 |
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Useful Dental Hygienist Organizations & Associations in Georgia
Georgia Dental Hygienists' Association (GDHA)
Joining the Georgia Dental Hygienists Association entitles you to a subscription to the Journal of Dental Hygiene as well as access to continuing education classes and an active job board.
Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.