Why Choose ISU

Why attend ISU for the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene Program

Reasons why students choose the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene Program at Idaho State University:

  • Only Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene program in Idaho.
  • Program is fully accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association.
  • One to four faculty to student ratio helps to enhance learning.
  • Students gain experience in the fields of periodontal therapy (prophylaxis or scaling and root planning) pain control (local anesthesia), restorative procedures(placing and carving fillings), and supportive treatment(fluoride therapy, desensitization).
  • The on-site ISU Dental Hygiene Clinic services 1400-1600 patients each year.

Licensure in California Update: California no longer accepts academic programs outside of the state that teach local anesthesia, nitrous oxide oxygen analgesia and soft tissue curettage.  Therefore, graduates of ISU Dental Hygiene will need to contact the State of California Dental Hygiene Committee at www.dhcc.ca.gov or call (916) 263-1978​ to obtain information on completing an accepted board-approved course through California. 

Degree Awarded

Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. Idaho State University offers the only baccalaureate degree Dental Hygiene program in the State of Idaho.


The ISU dental hygiene program is fully accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association. The last accreditation review was in 2010 and “Approval without reporting requirements” was granted. Graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is required by law to be licensed as a dental hygienist in Idaho.

Graduate Performance on Licensing Examinations

The Idaho State Dental Practice Act requires graduates to successfully complete the written National Dental Hygiene Board Examination, the clinical and local anesthesia (practical) Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) for licensure. Performance of ISU graduates on the national board examination has been exceptional over the years. The consistent outstanding performance of ISU graduates reflects the quality of education received at ISU. Besides Idaho, fourteen other states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming) use WREB as the practical examination for licensure.

Pre-Dental Hygiene Curriculum

Students are admitted to the professional program after completion of two years of general education and science prerequisite requirements reflecting basic principles of baccalaureate education and preparing students for dental hygiene and clinical course work, as well as for graduate education. Examples of general education courses completed are English (6 credits), Statistics (3 credits), Speech (3 credits), Psychology (3 credits), Sociology (3 credits), and Nutrition (3 credits). Science courses include General Biology (4 credits), Anatomy & Physiology (8 credits), Microbiology (4 credits), and Chemistry (6 Credits). The Department of Dental Hygiene has transfer equivalencies with every public college/university in Idaho. Students can transfer from other institutions to the ISU dental hygiene program without loss of credits. Articulation with most Utah institutions also decreases the possibility of lost credits for those students attending Utah schools prior to transfer. See our department website to review these transfer equivalencies.

Opportunities After Graduation

Graduates are able to apply for licensure anywhere in the U.S. because of the scope of the curriculum. However, California no longer accepts academic programs outside of the state that teach local anesthesia, nitrous oxide oxygen analgesia and soft tissue curettage. Therefore, graduates of ISU Dental Hygiene will need to contact the State of California Dental Hygiene Committee at www.dhcc.ca.gov or call (916) 263-1978 to obtain information on completing an accepted board-approved course through California. After graduation with a Bachelor of Science degree, students have the opportunity to be employed in private dental practice, public health settings, hospital and long-term care facilities, dental hygiene teaching, and research. Graduates also are prepared to pursue graduate studies in dental hygiene or related fields, and work as managers or consumer advocates. Graduate study, the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene, is available at Idaho State University. The majority of offerings are available online with emphasis areas in Dental Hygiene Education and Community and Rural Oral Health.


The instructional complex includes an on-campus clinic in Pocatello housing 33 chairs, six x-ray rooms, a darkroom, and sterilization area. State-of-the-art dental equipment, such as digital radiology and endoscopic therapy, together with contemporary dental practice software and hardware, are used in the clinical curriculum. An additional on-campus facility includes two laboratories, one classroom, teaching stations, videotape capabilities, and a four station computer area with Internet access to promote student learning.


Each of the full-time faculty members who teach in the undergraduate dental hygiene program have earned a Master’s degree or Doctoral degree in dental hygiene or a related field. An additional 12 part-time clinical dental hygiene faculty members and 10 supervising dentists provide instruction in clinical courses. The faculty to student ratio in clinic is one to four to enhance learning. The achievements of the faculty are noteworthy. Publications and presentations in national and international arenas are credited to numerous faculty members. Research studies conducted by the faculty have been funded by private, federal, and state agencies, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, and ISU. Faculty members have also contributed to the dental hygiene body of knowledge by publishing chapters in a variety of textbooks, publishing articles in professional journals, and presenting professional presentations. Faculty members also have experience in grant writing to enhance technology and the curriculum.

Community Service

Each year approximately 1600 – 1800 patients receive dental hygiene care at the ISU Dental Hygiene Clinic in Pocatello and Idaho Falls. In addition, dental hygiene students and faculty provide oral health education to over 3000 members of the community and school districts each year. Senior students also participate in clinical rural health activities including the Pocatello Free Clinic, Idaho State Veterans Home and Southeastern Idaho Public Health Department.

Advisory Committee

The Dental Hygiene Advisory Committee is designed as a formal mechanism for maintaining a liaison between the ISU Dental Hygiene Program and the dental and dental hygiene professional community and associations. Five dentists and five dental hygienists from each geographic area of the state comprise the membership as well as one public health hygienist, one member of the Idaho State Board of Dentistry, one supervising dentist, the Associate Vice Provost and Executive Dean of the Division of Health Sciences, and the Chairperson of the Department. Meetings are held twice each year.

The Department of Dental Hygiene awards a Bachelor of Science degree. Admissions criteria and the selection process vary from year to year. It is the responsibility of the student to contact the Department of Dental Hygiene or access the department website after October 1 to obtain admissions information for the application year.

Students apply to the program on or before January 15 to be considered for fall semester admission. Students will be notified of their admission status by April 1 of the year of application. All core courses and general education courses MUST be completed by the end of the summer semester of the year of application. If you are transferring to Idaho State University, refer to the Transfer Student section.

Apply Here

Admissions Information

Health Evaluation Form

Student Questionnaire


Important Factors to Consider before Applying:

Estimated Expenses: Expenses related to professional programs are often higher than programs not associated with health care disciplines. Therefore, program costs should be considered as part of the decision making process.

Dental Office Observation/Experience: Currently there is no formal requirement for dental office experience prior to being admitted to the Dental Hygiene program; however, it is beneficial for the applicant to be familiar with the work environment in which most hygienists are employed.

Students without dental office experience who are attending ISU can enroll in DENT 2220: Introduction to the Dental Office, as an elective. Other students are encouraged to observe in a dental office that employs a dental hygienist to become familiar with the dental team and the practice environment.

Disabilities: Idaho State University will make every effort to comply with "reasonable accommodations", according to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans With Disabilities Act. ISU will not discriminate in the recruitment, admission, or treatment of students or employees with disabilities. Our program is committed to all students achieving their potential. If you have a disability or think you have a disability (physical, learning disability, hearing, vision, psychiatric) which may need a reasonable accommodation, please contact the ADA Disabilities & Resource Center as early as possible at the following address: ADA and Disabilities Resource Center, STOP 8121, Pocatello, ID 83209 (208) 282-3599.

Students as Patients: During the two-year Dental Hygiene Curriculum students are required to be "patients" for a student partner. Student partners practice dental hygiene procedures and pain control methods on each other.

Latex Allergy or Sensitivity and Cumulative Trauma Disorders:
Individuals who have a latex allergy/sensitivity or a cumulative trauma disorder (such as carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, tendonitis, lateral epicondylitis, etc.) should discuss the implications of these conditions with a physician and a dental hygiene faculty member. The severity of these conditions may adversely impact the individual's performance in the program and upon graduation, the practice of dental hygiene. Careful consideration of these conditions is imperative to a career in dental hygiene.

Patient Recruitment: Students have specific patient cases that are required throughout the curriculum. The department recruits patients through advertisements, the clinical recall system, and other mechanisms. It is ultimately the student's responsibility to recruit patients to fulfill required cases.

Immunization and Testing Policy: Policies and procedures for vaccinations, testing and post-exposure incidents have been developed to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Dental Association (ADA), American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) and extramural site recommendations or policies.

Idaho State University dental hygiene students, in the course of their clinical/academic duties have significant exposure to blood, blood products, tissue, secretions or body fluids of patients potentially containing hepatitis B (HBV) and are at risk for HBV as well as other infectious diseases. Unintentional punctures of the skin with contaminated instruments or needles sometimes occur despite careful technique. These factors increase student risk for contracting diseases.

Required Immunizations and CPR Certification: Documentation of required immunizations is required to begin the dental hygiene program. If HBV has not been completed or initiated at the time of application the vaccination series MUST be started by early January to assure completion prior to the program start date in August.

  • CPR with Basic Life Support (BLS) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) certification is required prior to beginning the junior year and must be maintained throughout the curriculum.
  • HBV vaccination verification and proof of immunity through a blood test. The student must receive antibody testing which shows him/her to have sufficient immunity after the three injection series has been received.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) testing by the PPD test and verification of the results (positive or negative). Results of a TB test must be submitted each year. In the event that the test is positive, the student will follow the physician's recommendations for treatment and submit verification that these recommendations are being followed.
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination verification or proof of immunity to Measles (Rubeola) and Rubella (German Measles) through a blood test.
  • It is also recommended that students are immunized with the Influenza; Diptheria and Tetanus (DT); Polio; and Chicken Pox (Varicella) vaccinations for additional protection.

If these vaccinations or TB testing are contraindicated or refused for medical, personal or age considerations, the student must sign the Vaccination Declination Form.

TB testing results and the MMR vaccination (or proof of immunity) are required by the policies of extramural sites. The Department cannot guarantee participation in extramural rotations should the student choose not to comply with these requirements.

Vaccinations and testing can be received at any District Health Department, Idaho State University Student Health, or through the student's personal physician. Costs associated with the vaccinations and testing are the responsibility of the student.

Infectious Diseases: When a prospective student contracts an infectious disease, he/she should consider how that status would affect his/her future in healthcare. Information to help make decisions about one's future as a student or healthcare worker is available through a district health department or personal physician. In cases when a prospective student discloses that he/she has an infectious disease, the case will be reported to the State Epidemiologist who will assess if the student performs invasive procedures. When the assessment determines that exposure-prone procedures are performed, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will assess, through an expert review panel, the risk of the worker-to-client exposure. When the panel determines that the risk of client exposure is high, the individual will be referred to the Idaho State Board of Dentistry for evaluation of the procedures performed, fitness to practice, and future practice restrictions. All evaluations and assessments remain confidential. The determination of whether an individual poses a significant risk to clients will be considered on a case-by-case basis. It may be necessary to modify educational methods, employment responsibilities, and/or treatment protocols based on the results of the expert review panel and the licensing board review. 

Scheduling an Appointment

If you are interested in a degree in dental hygiene, contact Jennifer Sterbentz at (208) 282-3796 or dentinfo@isu.edu to schedule an advising appointment and department tour. 

Advising Night

The Department of Dental Hygiene hosts an Advising Night during the fall and spring semesters. Advising Night provides an opportunity to have questions answered regarding the dental hygiene program and to facilitate spring and fall semester registration. All students who plan to apply for admission to the Dental Hygiene Program must obtain formal advising with a faculty advisor prior to application submission. These sessions are held at the Dental Hygiene Sciences Building #32.

If you have questions regarding registration, the dental hygiene program, or would like to meet with an advisor, please plan to attend Advising Night.

We hope to see you there!

Prerequisite Information

The Idaho State University Department of Dental Hygiene awards a Bachelor of Science degree. Students apply to the professional curriculum after completing prerequisite courses in science and general education. The professional program is two years in length.

The dental hygiene program fosters student growth, promotes development of critical and ethical judgment, and encourages life-long learning. The curriculum includes didactic, laboratory and clinical instruction sufficient to graduate competent clinicians who are capable of providing contemporary dental hygiene care. Students are educated to clinical competency in both traditional and advanced procedures.

Emphasis is placed on preventive, therapeutic and nonsurgical periodontal services and restorative therapy. Dental hygiene students have the opportunity to select a specialized emphasis area in either dental hygiene education or practice management. As a result, graduates possess an increased understanding of health care delivery, advanced capabilities and greater career mobility. Graduates of the ISU dental hygiene program also are prepared to pursue graduate studies in dental hygiene or related disciplines.

Competencies for Students

Graduates must demonstrate competency in three major areas, each representing a broad goal for professional activity that occurs in the delivery of dental hygiene care. Within each goal, competencies have been identified, defining the level of special skills, knowledge and attitudes required of new graduates for entry into dental hygiene practice in public or private settings. The three areas of professional activity that serve as the structure for ISU's dental hygiene graduate are:

  1. Professionalism and Ethics
  2. Process of Care
  3. Health promotion and Disease Prevention in the Community

For further descriptions or information on the Dental Hygiene Curriculum listed below see .

Required Dental Hygiene Courses:

Junior Year - Fall Semester (21 credits)
DENT 3307 Prevention and Management of Medical Emergencies
DENT 3308 Oral Histology and Embryology
DENT 3311 Tooth Morphology
DENT 3312 Head and Neck Anatomy
DENT 3313 Clinical Dental Hygiene I, Lecture
DENT 3313C Clinical Dental Hygiene I, Clinic
DENT 3315 Preventive Dentistry
DENT 3316 Dental Materials
DENT 4408 Ethical and Legal Principles

Junior Year - Spring Semester (19 credits)
PPRA 3314 Basic and Applied Pharmacology for Dental Hygiene
DENT 3309 General and Oral Pathology
DENT 3314 Clinical Dental Hygiene II, Lecture
DENT 3314C Clinical Dental Hygiene II, Clinic
DENT 3318 Oral Radiology
DENT 3318L Oral Radiology Lab
DENT 3319 Dental Materials and Adjunct Procedures
DENT 3321 Periodontology
DENT 3320 Pain Management

Senior Year - Fall Semester (19 credits)
DENT 4401 Research Methods
DENT 4402 Advanced Periodontology
DENT 4403 Advanced Clinical Theory I, Lecture
DENT 4403C Advanced Clinical Practice I, Clinic
DENT 4411 Application of Restorative Therapies
DENT 4411C Restorative Care I
DENT 4413 Community Health
DENT 4422 Educational Strategies and Applied Methods

Senior Year - Spring Semester (16 credits)
DENT 4404 Advanced Clinical Theory II, Lecture
DENT 4404C Advanced Clinical Practice II, Clinic
DENT 4412C Restorative Care II
DENT 4414 Community Outreach Experience
DENT 4421 Leadership and Health Policy
DENT 4424 Principles of Interprofessional Practice Management
DENT 4405 Senior Seminar


Undergraduate Application Fee: $95.00


Financial Aid

Costs for tuition and general fees at ISU are listed on the Cost of Attendance Page

Will ISU serve students in my state?

ISU is currently working with other states to ensure our programs are authorized to offer eISU courses to the residents of these states. The following table includes a list of states where ISU is Authorized or In Process for obtaining authorization. For states where authorization is Currently Not Feasible, ISU is not able to serve their residents due to the burdensome regulatory requirements of these states. Prospective students may contact their state agency to inquire regarding the possibility of exemption for participation in particular online programs, e.g. where the educational institutions in your state do not offer the type of degree you are seeking.

Authorized In Process Currently Not Feasible
Due to State Regulation
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming. Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, and Ohio.

[Please check with your department or program advisor if state authorization is required]

Transfer Students


Why I Chose ISU

Amanda Diaz RDH, BSDH - Class of 2014


"Idaho State University's Dental Hygiene Baccalaureate Program is known for its high standards and challenging program. I wanted an education that would prepare me with the skills and knowledge to be the best dental hygienist I could be, and I believe this Dental Hygiene program has done just that. I am confident in the education I received, and notice doctors also share this same confidence in my education knowing it comes from Idaho State University!"

-Amanda Diaz RDH, BSDH - Class of 2014





Sammie Nicolello, RDH, BSDH-Class of 2014


"I chose to attend Idaho State University's Dental Hygiene Baccalaureate Program because of its unparalleled reputation for providing a challenging, yet rewarding, curriculum. The program provided me incredible educational experiences and prepared me immensely for my career as a dental hygienist. The dental hygiene program at Idaho State University has filled a void in my life and given me a chance to give back to others in a way that I absolutely love."

-Sammie Nicolello, RDH, BSDH-Class of 2014




Brittney L. Wing, RDH, BSDH - Class of 2013


"I wouldn't attend, nor recommend any other dental hygiene program. I left Idaho State University with the knowledge and confidence to provide competent dental hygiene treatment to all populations across the United States. Graduating with a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene had opportunities knocking at my door before I had ever left campus. The faculty, staff and curriculum at Idaho State was invaluable to my dental hygiene education."

-Brittney L. Wing, RDH, BSDH - Class of 2013






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