Essential Functions for a Dental Hygienist

In order to be admitted to or continue in the Dental Hygiene Program, a student must have skills and abilities essential to perform as a dental hygienist. Reasonable accommodations will be made on an individual basis; however, the candidate must be able to perform in an independent manner.

Functional Abilities Required in the Dental Hygiene Program



Examples of Activities

Motor Capabilities Mobility/Motor

Manual finger dexterity and hand-eye coordination

Physical abilities (including standing, walking, bending, range of motion of extremities) to move from room-to-room and maneuver in small spaces.

Gross and fine motor function sufficient to provide safe and effective dental hygiene care

Move around in an operatory, workspace and laboratory area.

Assist and position patients or lift and operate equipment with necessary strength and dexterity.

Able to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation; move around in patient treatment area

Communication Ability Communication abilities sufficient for effective interaction with others in spoken and written English. Explain treatment procedures, initiate teaching, document and interpret patient data and listen attentively
Sensory Capabilities
Hearing, Visual, Olfactory

Auditory ability sufficient to monitor and assess health needs.

Normal or corrected visual ability sufficient for observation of oral conditions, patient observation and assessment, ability to discriminate between subtle changes in oral conditions and density in radiographs, see in darkroom conditions.

Olfactory senses (smell) sufficient for maintaining environment and patient safety, diagnostic tool for oral disease.

Hear patient concerns and emergency signals.

Observe oral conditions, observe patient responses, oral secretions and colors. Read chart, computer screens, disks, labels and gauges, interpret radiographs.

Distinguish smells which contribute to assessing and/or maintaining the patient's health status or environment safety (fire), distinguish the smell of oral disease and health.

Interpersonal Skill Interpersonal ability to communicate with groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds. Be able to interact with families and individuals. Establish rapport with patients, colleagues, faculty, health care providers. Use therapeutic communication (attending, clarifying, coaching)
Problem Solving Ability Function effectively under stress, respond appropriately to emergencies, adhere to infection control procedures, Address problems or questions to the appropriate persons, organize and prioritize job tasks. Evaluate patient or disease responses, synthesize data, draw sound conclusions.
Critical Thinking Critical thinking ability sufficient for clinical judgment. Identify cause-effect relationships in clinical situations, develop treatment plans.
Behavioral Skills, Attitude, Demeanor and Professionalism Ability to present professional appearance and implement measures to maintain own physical and mental health and emotional stability. Ability to demonstrate emotional health required for the utilization of intellectual abilities and exercise good judgment. Work under time restraints and stressful situations. Be exposed to communicable diseases and contaminated body fluids. React calmly in emergency situations. Demonstrate flexibility and teamwork. Respect confidentiality and show concern for others. Must be able to deal with stress produced by course load, clinical requirements and patient attitude.
Computer Literacy Requires basic computer skills. Research information to evaluate products and make evidence-based decisions.