Dental hygiene is a growing field and in high demand in Austin.
With the goal of producing competent entry-level dental hygiene professionals to meet the market requirements, Austin Community College’s Dental Hygiene program strives to provide future dental hygienists with the best education and training program in town.
ACC’s Dental Hygiene program is proud to be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation – the national programmatic accrediting agency for dental and dental-related education programs at the post-secondary level.
Students accepted into this program work with faculty who hold an average of 26 years of experience working in the field.
One of the main reasons for the recent growth of dental hygiene is the high pay grade. According to Indeed, the average base salary for dental hygienists in Austin is $39.22 per hour.
“A lot of our students can be independent financially just by working part-time,” Professor Sima Sohrabi, the clinic coordinator of the program, said.
“The pay is very compatible with engineers, but it takes only two years for our students to be able to work,” Sohrabi said.
Sohrabi also mentioned that usually her students start looking for jobs before they graduate. By the time they graduate, they already have job offers lined up. One of the biggest hurdles for the students in the process is obtaining their license.
The license pass rate for students in the program so far is 100%.
ACC’s Dental Hygiene program is highly selective. “There are about 80-100 applicants per year, but we only take 18,” Sohrabi said. “Lots of students couldn’t get in on their first try.”
To be qualified for admission, applicants are required to get a minimum Test of Essential Academic Skills score of 58.7 on both the Reading and English sections of the exam.
“On a scale of ten, I’ll give the hard level of that exam a six,” Christina Marie Kumar, a first-year student in ACC’s Dental Hygiene program, said.
Kumar was accepted into this program on her first attempt. Sharing about her experience, she underlines the importance of studying actively.
“It’s important to fully understand the subject matter of the exam and your testing style,” Kumar said. “Then, I’ll do a self-assessment. How confident do I feel with the Reading and English sections?”
Because the program is compressed into two years instead of four, the course schedule is tight.
“This semester in particular, my schedule is Monday through Thursday,” Kumar said. “Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday are clinic days. Those are days I’ll be seeing patients in the clinic. And the rest are lecture days.”
“When you hear about dental hygienists, you automatically think of teeth, but we’re so much more than that,” Kumar said. “There are so many people who come to the dentist when they’re in pain. I get to see these people and assess things like blood pressure and cancer screening.”
ACC’s Dental Hygiene program also offers good-quality dental services to patients. “When patients come here, they get a head and neck cancer screening, extraoral and intraoral screening, dental X-ray and a very thorough teeth cleaning,” Sohrabi said.
Sohrabi explained that after coming through the screening process, patients will be assigned to students based on their scale level.
Patients can get complete cleaning with everything included for as low as $20. More deep and complex cleaning, if needed, is $40.
Patients are required to have a flexible schedule. They should have time in their schedule for three to five appointments that are three hours in length.
“We need time to do faculty checks, paper work, and they’re still students,” Sohrabi said. “But consider the fee, it’s worth spending time.”
ACC’s Dental Hygiene program is currently accepting patients. The department is located at Eastview Campus, 3101 Webberville Road, building 8000. Call (512) 223 – 5710 to find out more and schedule your first appointment.