Dental Hygiene

Program Type: Face-to-Face
Program Level: Degrees
Department: Career and Technical
Institute: Health & Biosciences
College: PAC

What is a Dental Hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a preventive oral health professional whose primary role is to aid in improving oral health to impact overall health. This role includes routine tasks of providing preventive and periodontal care to the patient based upon their specific need while performing a thorough medical history, oral cancer screening, radiographic evaluation, and developing the individualized dental hygiene treatment need for the patient.


Dental Hygienist Program Highlights

  • The Dental Hygiene Program has obtained Initial Accreditation from the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), which is valid for two years. The final stage of accreditation will take place Spring 2025. 
  • Our 13,273 square foot state-of-the-art dental hygiene clinic is located inside the new Rio Grande Building.
  • Clinical Education for the student will offer dental hygiene treatment to the surrounding community members in the on-site Dental hygiene clinic.
  • Once a student successfully completes an Accredited Dental Hygiene Program’s curriculum, they are eligible to sit for the required licensing boards.
  • Entrance into Palo Alto College’s Dental Hygiene Program is a separate application process from that of entry into Palo Alto College.

What Does The Future Hold For Dental Hygiene?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook  Handbook, Dental Hygienists:

  • The mean annual wage as of May 2022:
    • National estimates of $84,860
    • State of Texas estimates of $79,690
  • As per, “the supply of dental hygienists is projected to grow by 17.4%, while demand is projected to grow by 18.6%”
  • Demand for dental hygienists is projected to exceed supply every year between 2018 and 2030.
How Do I Become A Dental Hygienist In The State Of Texas?
  • Be at least 18 years of age or older.
  • Graduate from an accredited high school or hold a high school equivalency.
  • Graduation from a dental hygiene school that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association (ADA).
  • Successful completion of the Joint Commission on Dental Hygiene Examination (known as the National Board Exam).
  • Successful completion of a Dental Hygiene Clinical Board exam approved by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE).
Program Details
  • Two-year, full-time program – five semesters of course work.
  • All students must be TSI-2.0 Complete
  • All students must undergo a background check.
  • Competitive Entrance Process.
  • To apply – an entrance exam is required, HSRT-Health Science Reasoning Test
  • Dental Hygiene observation hours required.
  • Course work will be delivered face-to-face, hybrid, and/or fully online, with synchronous and asynchronous learning.
  • Class enrollment size will be limited to 30.
Prerequisite and other GenEd classes
General Education Course Name SCH
Prerequisites Courses BIOL 2401 Anatomy & Physiology I 4
BIOL 2402 Anatomy & Physiology II 4
BIOL 2420 Microbiology for Nursing and Allied Health 4
Choose one of the following: One of the following can build towards the AAS Degree:
CHEM 1405 Introduction to Chemistry 4
or CHEM 1406 Introduction to Chemistry with an Allied Health Focus
or CHEM 1411 General Chemistry I
ENGL 1301 Composition I 3
Other GenEd to be taken PHIL 2306 Introduction to Ethics 3
Choose one of the following: One of the following can build towards the AAS Degree:
PSYC 2301 General Psychology 3
OR PSYC 2314 Lifespan Growth & Development
OR SOCI 1301 Introduction to Sociology
Total Credit hours for GenEd Courses 25

December 31, 2023, course completion to apply for the Fall 2024 entrance into the program

Degrees Offered


GPA Requirements
  • All sciences courses should meet a GPA requirement of a 3.5. (Sciences courses have a 5-year limit).
  • All General Education courses should meet a GPA requirement of a 3.0.

If these minimum GPA requirements are not met, a student will not meet the requirements for application. They can choose to have information evaluate for areas of improvement. In order for an applicant to calculate their weighted GPA, please complete the calculations using the below excel spreadsheet. This sheet will allow for the applicant to complete the orange highlighted areas. This sheet will be part of the application process that will be submitted. Please print out the calculation sheet and submit in your application.

Weighted GPA Calculation Sheet

Observation Hours

20 hours of dental office observation spread over three different fields:

  1. General Dentistry
  2. Pediatric Dentistry
  3. Periodontal Dentistry.

Below is the form that is available for download and completion by the dental hygienist that is being observed. Hold on to the forms for their submission in the application packet. DO NOT email this information.

Verification of RDH Observation Form

  • These hours cannot be completed in the dental office that the applicant is employed in.
  • Observation hours can be accrued over a three-year period.
  • Each observation must have a separate form for the visit.
  • These hours are good for up to 3 (three) years

The minimum hours of observation per dental office type is 2 hours. Therefore, if one practice only allows 2 hours, the remainder of the hours can be spread across the other office types.

There is no exception to this observation requirements. Applications will be considered incomplete without these hours completed.


All immunization must be completed before the start of the dental hygiene program for fall entry. At the time of application, all series immunizations (any immunization that requires more than one injection) MUST be underway with a projected completion date determined to be before the start of the Fall semester. (Example: Hepatitis B series can be started, but must have all injections completed by the start of the fall semester)

The Centers for Disease Control  and the Texas Administrative Code, Title 25, Part 1, Chapter 97, Subchapter B, Rule §97.64 state required immunizations for required vaccinations for students enrolled in health-related institutions of higher education.

All vaccinations must be completed at the time of enrollment as per the Texas Administrative Code, “before they [the student] can engage in direct patient contact with potential exposure to blood or bodily fluids in educational, medical, or dental care facilities.” Below is the list for completion prior to enrollment.

There are NO exceptions to this rule.

The Texas Administrative Code, Title 25, Part 1, Chapter 97, Subchapter B, Rule §97.68 state the acceptable forms of proof of vaccination(s). 

  1. Vaccines administered after September 1, 1991, shall include the month, day, and year each vaccine was administered.
  2. Documentation of vaccines administered that include the signature or stamp of the physician or physician’s designee, or public health personnel, is acceptable. Immunization records generated from electronic health record systems must include clinic contact information and the provider’s signature/stamp.
  3. An official immunization record generated from a state or local health authority is acceptable.
  4. An official record received from school officials, including a record from another state, is acceptable.


This information is included in this packet to allow applicants to complete these immunizations. The CDC provides The Pink Book: “Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 14th Edition as a reference for vaccine recommendations.  Some immunizations take up to six months to complete. Please see the list of immunizations required below:

  1. Hepatitis B – Please follow the CDC reference here:
    1. If an applicant has had the Hepatitis Vaccination previously, then a blood titer level must be completed. A titer is a blood test that measures the amount of antibodies in the blood. The CDC recommends that a healthcare worker should have immunity is their blood titer level exhibits an anti-HBs at a level of 10 mlU/mL (positive), resulting in immunity to Hepatitis B. The following link is provided from the CDC reference of Pink Book’s chapter on Hepatitis B, Chapter 10, Page 146,
  2. MMR Vaccination – Measles, Mumps, Rubella – Please follow the CDC reference here:
    1. Measles requires 2 doses separated by at least 28 days
    2. Students born on or after January 1, 1957, must show, prior to patient contact, acceptable evidence of vaccination of two doses of a measles-containing vaccine administered since January 1, 1968 (preferably MMR vaccine).
    3. Students born on or after January 1, 1957, must show, prior to patient contact, acceptable evidence of vaccination of two doses of a mumps vaccine.
    4. Students must show, prior to patient contact, acceptable evidence of one dose of rubella vaccine.
    5. Mumps and Rubella may consist of one dose, unless combined with Measles.
  3. Varicella (Chicken Pox) – Vaccination for or immunity verification for the Varicella Virus – Please follow the CDC reference here:
    1. If immunization is not verified, the CDC recommends two doses of vaccine who have never had chicken pox before. If you have not had nor have been immunized, the CDC recommends immunization to healthcare providers.
  4. Flu (Influenza) – Please follow the CDC reference here:
    1. One does of influenza vaccine annually
  5. Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis – Please follow the CDC reference here:
    1. Receive a one-time dose as soon as possible if have not received a Tdap previously.
    2. Followed by a booster every 10 years.
  6. Meningococcal – Please follow the CDC reference here:
    1. The Meningitis Vaccine can result in a three-part series, depending on the type of vaccine.
  7. Tuberculosis Screening/Testing – Please follow the CDC reference here and on the Texas Health and Human Services website
    1. Two-Step TB testing is required.

The below information is provided as a resource only and is not affiliated with Alamo College Districts in any way. The City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District provides Immunization Clinics. Please review the following links for additional information in seeking immunizations for lower costs.

There are no exceptions to immunizations as per the Texas State Legislature for any reason. All information submitted must be signed off on by a licensed practitioner for verification.
BLS CPR & AED (Adult, Child & Infant)

The application must also have a current certification in CPR. This certification must be the two-year American Heart Association certification. Please see the information below:

  • Must have a current American Heart Association Provider CPR Certification with AED experience.
  • This is typically a 2-year certification.
  • Current CPR certification must be presented with BLS/AED certification and must remain current for the duration of the educational period and licensure process.
  • Must be from the American Heart Association’s organization.
  • Note: Once accepted into the program if at any time a student's CPR expires while in the program the student will be dismissed until renewal of CPR certification.

There is no exception to this!


Once all of the information above has been completed, 45 applicants who have successfully completed all the requirements will be offered the opportunity to sit for the Health Science Reasoning Test.  

  • Qualified applicants will be sent an access code and method of payment for the assessment fee of $20.00 along with instructions to start the exam.
  • This exam can be taken on any computer with proctoring access.
  • At the completion of the assessment, the student will provide a digital copy of the assessment tool. Upload instructions will follow shortly for this piece of the application.
  • Note: The HSRT can be taken once per application cycle.
ADEA Application
  • Please click on the following link to begin your application. (you will need to create an account with ADEA DHCAS if you do not have one already)

  • Fall 2024 Deadline, March 15, 2024

  • Once the application has been submitted, allow 4-6 weeks for an invite to the HSRT reasoning test or a denial letter

  • The top 30 applicants will be selected. In addition, 15 alternates will be selected. All 45 applicants must attend a mandatory new student orientation. This is not optional. Failure to do so will result in the applicant forfeiting their position for an opportunity in the Palo Alto Dental Hygiene Program

Apply Here

NOTE: ADEA requires a fee of $45 upon submission of your application.

Contact Information

Olga Segura
Dental Hygiene Department
Administrative Assistant



Rio Grande
Dental Hygiene Clinic

Juan Venegas, M.Ed.
Certified Advisor
Academic Advising



Rio Grande (RIOGND 111D)