Modern dentistry, like all medicine, is founded on the old proverb that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Proper oral hygiene is of fundamental importance for a healthy mouth because it prevents the deposit and accumulation of bacterial plaque which is the cause of cavities, as well as gingival and periodontal diseases. Furthermore, patients today are increasingly concerned with their overall health and place a high value on their physical appearance in order to enhance their social status. This underscores the importance of a dental hygienist, whose function is to prevent oral diseases and promote oral health. This degree program in Dental Hygiene trains professionals who work autonomously to administer the necessary procedures to care for a patients’ oral health. A dental hygienist is the ideal bridge between preventive and therapeutic dentistry, and works with people of all ages and backgrounds and in different clinical settings.
The course work for this three-year program is divided into semesters: in the first semester of the first year, students will study basic concepts, while in the second semester and for the next two years they will focus on developing their professional skills. The instructional program includes lectures, practice in the laboratory and on mannequins, and mandatory clinical internship placements which represent a fundamental part of the training for certification. During the placements, which will take place in community health settings approved by the Faculty, students will gain the required professional competencies by learning to assess, plan, administer, and maintain dental-hygienic treatment. Upon completion of the program, students will possess a solid knowledge of human biological systems, with particular emphasis on the structures of the head and oral cavity; they will be able to recognize the clinical picture of prevalent adult and childhood diseases; be able to determine the etiopathogenesis, diagnosis, and preventive treatment of dental and periodontal diseases in patients of all ages; and finally, be able to understand the risks of infection and its prevention through proper methods of disinfection and sterilization.
Dental hygienists are professionals who promote oral health and hygiene for the purpose of improving the overall health as well as the appearance and self-esteem of patients. They perform clinical diagnoses and take X-Rays to detect diseases of the gums and teeth, and collaborate with dentists to prepare clinical odontostomatolgical files and to design treatment plans. Hygienists provide instructions on the various techniques of oral hygiene and on the use of suitable diagnostic methods to detect and identify the main causes of oral diseases. They are also trained to recommend a proper diet to promote dental health, and are responsible for cleaning and whitening teeth, as well as applying fluoride treatments to prevent cavities. There is a growing need for dental hygienists and they are in high demand due to the limited number of qualified professionals in this field. Positions are available in public or private health facilities, as employees or as self-employed practitioners. Dental hygienists can also work as researchers for universities or local research agencies.