Department of Dental Hygiene

The Program of Dental Hygiene was established in the College of Dentistry in 1934, and graduated its first class in 1935. In 1947, educational requirements extended the curriculum to a two-year course of study. The program awards a Certificate in Dental Hygiene and is approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Graduates are eligible to apply for licensure in all states and the District of Columbia as well as foreign countries.

The mission of the accredited Dental Hygiene Program is to provide graduates with competencies necessary for entry into the Dental Hygiene profession in the United States and in the global community. Moreover, the program is committed to providing educational opportunities to promising minority students with particular emphasis on attracting African-Americans.

The Dental Hygiene Program recognizes the need for evidence-based paradigm shifts to address ongoing advancements in oral health care and changes in education technology. In the future, the division plans to offer the baccalaureate degree and a baccalaureate degree completion program. Curricula will be offered both full and part-time; evening courses available; and distance learning options will be initiated. In addition, the program will broaden its curriculum base by increasing its interdisciplinary focus.


  • To provide students and faculty with a nurturing environment that will encourage them to maximize their potential and become exceptional healthcare professionals.
  • To recruit African-Americans and other minority students in order to increase minority enrollment.
  • To obtain financial support for the dental hygiene department from the alumni, the private and public sectors.
  • To participate in and support community activities, locally, nationally and internationally.
  • To develop and implement faculty and student research programs.


Dental Hygiene Faculty


Deprtment Chair
Donna Grant-Mills, RDH, MEd, DDS
(202) 806-0079

Sandra Osborne, RDH, MS
(202) 806-0079

Jonathan B. Owens, RDH, MS
(202) 806-0079


Curriculum Overview



Fall Semester

  • Dental Materials
  • Anatomy of Orofacial Structures
  • Histology and Embryology
  • Pre-clinical Dental Hygiene Theory
  • Pre-clinical Dental Hygiene Techniques

Spring Semester

  • Clinical Dental Hygiene I
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene Theory
  • General Oral Pathology and Therapeutics
  • Community Dental Health
  • Radiology
  • Introduction to Periodontics

Summer Semester

  • Clinical Dental Hygiene II
  • Pain Control


Fall Semester

  • Clinical Dental Hygiene III
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene Seminar I
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene Theory II
  • Ethics and Jurisprudence
  • Dental Health Education Methods
  • Nutrition/Nutritional Counseling
  • Biostatistics/Research Design
  • Periodontics

Spring Semester

  • Black Studies
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene Practicum
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene Seminar II
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene Theory III
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene IV
  • Research Practicum

Admission Procedures
Applications can be obtained from the university's Office of Admissions. Submit a completed application, a $45 non-refundable fee in the form of a money order or (no checks), a one page typed autobiographical sketch, a one page typed statement of your interest in pursuing a career in Dental Hygiene at Howard University, two letters of recommendation and an official transcript of your prerequisite courses by February 16, 2013 to: 

Director of Admissions,
Howard University,
2400 Sixth Street NW,
Washington, DC 20059.

Then call the Dental Hygiene Division at (202) 806-0079 to schedule a personal interview.

Admission policy requires the following pre-requisite basic science and general education courses, completed with a 2.5 GPA or greater. *Science pre-requisites must be completed within five years prior to admissions; and general education pre-requisites must have been completed within ten years prior to admissions.



College English I


College English II


Principles of Speech


Introduction to Sociology


Introduction to Psychology












*Must include a laboratory and be completed at a GPA of 2.75 or greater.

Selection Procedure

To be considered for admission, the student must submit a complete application packet by February 16, 2013. We encourage you to submit your application early, starting November 1st for early review and consideration.

Applications for admission to the dental hygiene program are reviewed by the Admissions Committee using the following weighted criteria: GPA of prerequisite science courses (5 points), overall GPA of prerequisite courses (5 points), total academic record (5 points), verbal and written communication skills (5), knowledge of the dental hygiene profession (5), professional demeanor, date received and completeness of application (5), and letters of recommendation (5). Upon review of the application, the Admissions Committee assigns each application a numerical rank. Based on the above criteria and the applicant’s interview, the selection will be based on the ranking order of the applicants. The highest ranking applicants will be offered admission until the class is filled. Applicants will be notified about the committee’s decision within six weeks of the interview. It is preferable to submit applications early. Selection preference is given to the applicant with a high science GPA, and early applications submitted by November 1st.


It is important that you keep a copy of all documents sent to the University for your records

Please note that admitted students who are accepted into the Dental Hygiene Program must submit a non-refundable enrollment fee. A personal interview is scheduled with the dental hygiene admission committee once all credentials have been received. For additional information please make inquiries to the Division of Dental Hygiene at (202) 806-0079 or call 1-800-822-6363, and ask to be connected to the Dental Hygiene Division.

The college credits that you receive during the program at Howard University can be applied to achieving a baccalaureate degree through the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University or through a degree completion program at another institution. Future goals include baccalaureate and degree completion programs.

Thank You for Your Interest in the Dental Hygiene Program at Howard University. 

Some Important Facts about Dental Hygienists:

Who is the Dental Hygienist?
The dental hygienist is the member of the oral healthcare profession who provides treatment to prevent dental caries (cavities) and periodontal (gum) diseases. Dental hygienists also instruct patients on methods to improve and maintain optimal oral health.

What Do Dental Hygienists Do?
Since each state has its own specific regulations, the range of services performed by dental hygienists varies from one state to another. Patient care services performed by dental hygienists may include,:

  • monitoring procedures-preliminary review of the patient's health history, dental charting, oral analysis, and taking and recording blood pressure
  • exposing, processing, and interpreting dental X rays
  • removing plaque and calculus (tartar)-soft and hard deposits-from above and below the gum line
  • applying cavity-preventive agents such as fluorides and sealants to the teeth, teaching patients proper oral hygiene techniques to maintain healthy teeth and gums
  • counseling patients about plaque control and developing individualized at-home oral hygiene programs
  • counseling patients on the importance of good nutrition for maintaining optimal health

Where Do Dental Hygienists Work?
Dental hygienists usually work as clinical practitioners in general oral health practices, however, some work in practices that specialize in periodontic and pediatric dentistry. Dental hygienists serve also as educators, researchers, administrators, managers, preventive program developers, consumer advocates, and consultants.

Some Important Facts about Dental Hygienists.
While most dental hygienists work in private oral health practices, others provide services in hospitals, managed care organizations (e.g., HMOs, PPOs, etc.), federal, state, and municipal health departments, primary and secondary school systems, private businesses and industry, correctional institutions, and private and public centers for pediatric geriatric, and other special needs groups.

Why Do Dental Hygienists Use the "RDH" Designation?
The "RDH" designation stands for Registered Dental Hygienist. It assures patients that a dental hygienist has completed a nationally accredited dental hygiene education program, has successfully passed a state clinical examination and a national written examination, and has received a state license to provide preventive oral healthcare services and patient education. (In Indiana, the designation LDH (Licensed Dental Hygienist) is used instead of RDH.)

How Can I Get More Information about the RDHs?
You cancontact the American Dental Hygienists' Association; the largest national organization representing the professional interests of the more than 100,000 registered dental hygienists nationwide. 1 (800) 243-ADHA